Sea of shark fins. Photo: Shawn Heinrichs. Shark Savers.We recommend Juliet Eilperin's blog, Is the shark fin ban culturally biased in today's Washington Post. Ms. Eilperin, national environmental reporter for the Washington Post, has weighed in on the Wall Street Journal - Asia blog of yesterday entitied, "Experts Swim Against the Current in Shark Fin Debate".

Ms. Eilperin zeroed in on the credentials and statements of Giam Choo Hoo. Dr. Giam was one of the advocates for the shark fin trade at the seminar in Singapore that Shark Savers participated in last week.

Ms. Eilperin apparently knows more about the background of Dr. Giam than did the WSJ reporter. Ms. Eilperin interviewed Giam for her book Demon Fish: Travels through the Hidden World of Sharks. We heartily recommend her book, which shows the multi-faceted relationship between humans and sharks throughout the ages.

We also recommend WildAid's Pete Knight's rebuttal to the same WSJ article: Open letter to the Wall Street Journal.

While we are at it, we are pleased to re-post Shark Savers' own response to flawed WSJ blog:

We object to the interpretation in this article (Experts Swim Against Shark Fin Debate) that Professor Oakley of Shark Savers Malaysia agrees with Dr. Giam’s and Mr. Jenkins that sharks are not in urgent need of greater protection or that the shark fin trade is a key part of the problem. Prof. Oakley argued in favor of significantly improved measures to assure sustainability and for rejecting the consumption of shark.

Stopping the shark fin trade would greatly reduce shark mortality. Worldwide, there is low demand for shark meat and high demand for shark fin. Fishery management and scientific reports confirm that demand for shark fins is the primary driver of unsustainable shark fishing. Shark fins are among the most expensive seafood items in the world, bringing 20 to 250 times the value of meat by weight.

A 2006 report from the CITES Animals Group on “Trade Related Threats to Sharks” states: “Extensive, global-scale exploitation of sharks for the fin trade with its ramifications for population sustainability and impacts of apex predator removal on marine ecosystems are issues of international concern and discussion (FAO 2000; NMFS 2001; Baum et al. 2003; Clarke 2004).”

As a result, 100% of the 14 species most prevalent in the shark fin trade (Clarke et al. 2006) are classified by the IUCN as Threatened or Near Threatened, with 71% at “High Risk” or “Very High Risk” of extinction. 17% of all shark species, and 30% of pelagic shark species are threatened with extinction. Yet there are no restrictions governing the trade of these very vulnerable species.

Shark species reproduce too slowly to overcome current levels of overfishing. The result, in many cases, has been severe population depletion or collapse. Regional losses of highly targeted species are as high as 99% in some cases.

Sharks are very important to ocean health. Current levels of shark fishing, trade, and consumption are not sustainable. Let’s all do our part now by not eating shark fins or shark meat.

For more on the seminar that triggered the WSJ article, please read our previous blog, entitled, An important debate: The shark fin industry vs. shark fin bans. In that blog article, you will find Fact Sheets that Shark Savers has prepared to rebut Dr. Giam's claims and provide the sources for the claims made in our response, above.


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