Photography in Paradise

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Menu with shark fin soup

This is a menu from a restaurant in the Hong Kong airport. Here is the up date on shark fin fishing.United Nations Meeting Takes Historic Step to Ban Shark Finning Ruling Signals a Turning Point for Endangered Sharks

NEW YORK, NY – In an historic step, delegates to the Fish Stocks Conference at the United Nations voted unanimously to end shark finning at sea.The 77 nations that are Parties to the Fish Stocks Agreement mandated that sharks must now: “be landed with their fins naturally attached or through different means that are equally effective and enforceable.”The action was required to stop the slaughter of up to 73 million sharks a year, principally to make shark fin soup. Shark finning – catching sharks, cutting off the fins, and throwing them back into the sea to drown – has been compared to the killing of elephants for their tusks in its wanton cruelty. It has continued under a system in which powerful fishing nations have failed to protect the oceans they harvest, and has brought entire shark species to the brink of extinction.  Palau’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Stuart Beck, said: “This ruling promises to be the beginning of the end for this murderous trade, but only strict enforcement by a determined international community will do the job. Time is running out, and this is an opportunity that must be seized.” Delegates to the meeting also adopted language to enhance the ability of small island nations to play a proactive role in future deliberations of the Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, which have responsibility for preserving the health of shark stocks. This is necessary and appropriate because the decline in shark populations will ultimately destroy the coral reefs on which they rely for their continued existence. Nations with distant water fishing fleets have traditionally dominated these organizations. The actions of the Conference will be the subject of review and adoption by the General Assembly in the fall.

Over one third of the world’s shark and ray species are considered threatened or near threatened with extinction, and virtually all shark stocks are under pressure. Given this emergency, President Johnson Toribiong recently declared Palau’s waters the world’s first national shark sanctuary. Many other countries, including the Maldives, Australia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, Israel, Honduras, Monaco and the United States have taken steps to protect sharks, and now the State of Hawaii has joined in this growing effort to conserve the species. Ambassador Beck said: “Through hard bargaining amongst countries a new international standard has been adopted. As the world rose up in revulsion in 1989 to avert the extinction of elephants, it once again looks to the United Nations and those who execute its mandate around the world to end the slaughter of sharks for their fins.”

A major part of the effort will be to gain meaningful access to the often opaque deliberations of Regional Fisheries Management Organizations to insure their compliance with the finning ban.The practice of shark finning, and recent seizures of contraband in Palauan waters were the subject of a Photo Exhibition titled “Sharks Attacked: The Ongoing Scandal of Shark -Finning.” at the UN during the Fish Stocks meeting.