Shark trading to be banned in Fiji

08:09, July 07, 2011      

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The Fijian government is set to protect sharks after a new landmark policy to counteract the alarming decline of the "king of the seas" is being drafted, the Ministry of Information said Wednesday in a media release.

Commander Viliame Naupoto, Permanent Secretary of Fiji's Department of Fisheries and Forests, was quoted as confirming that a review of fisheries laws would include a ban on the trade of all shark fin and other products derived from any type of shark that is captured in Fiji waters.

"We are reviewing the fisheries management law and in it we want to incorporate the ban of all shark meat and products in Fiji, especially the trade of shark fins," Naupoto said, clarifying the proposed ban was being styled upon a ban protecting turtles that Fiji has also rectified.

Sharks often termed the 'king of the seas' with their position at the top of the marine food chain, play a critical role within these ecosystem by controlling the population of certain marine species.

"If those animals have no predator than their increase can cause an imbalance in the marine ecosystem and can affect the middle of the food chain, which is where we get most of our livelihood from," Naupoto said.

"Due to the emerging new trends in shark tourism in the country, sharks are more valuable to us alive than dead," he added.

Mike Neumann, director of the Beqa Adventure Divers and a shark conservationist, also highlighted the importance of protection of sharks, saying that "every single tourist coming to Fiji, does so because of Fiji's pristine marine environment, if Fiji's oceans die, the tourists will go somewhere else where the sea is not depleted."

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