Responsible shark watching can drive thousands in revenue per live animal

Left to right, Sultan Al-Elwan, Dr. Ralf Sonntag and Dr. Elsa Nickel. IMAGE: Ahmed Abou-ZahraDelegates were excited and enthusiastic to start the day three of the Shark Conservation in Arabia Workshop and to put ideas together towards finding solutions to protect the shark.

There was a real intention to provide effective recommendations that can help to control global shark finning.

The photography gallery was one of the most attractive spots in the workshop, especially the images that reflected the immense threats to the beauty of sharks.

Sharks not only have extensive value in balancing the marine ecosystems but can also offer a massive profit to eco-tourism.

If we keep the shark living in the water and promote the responsible shark watching, this far out-weighs the profit made from shark finning, which can bring about US$200/fished shark.

Compare this with the tourism value of a single shark which is about US$ 200,000/live shark (according to Dr. Maher Amer – PERSGA). The eco-tourism provides humane and economically viable alternative that is better for sharks and provides more sustainable livelihoods for governments and communities.

The workshop also yielded mixed views due to variation in data collection about shark trade.

Some countries already have laws regulating shark fishing. However, there is no harmony in existing policies and fisheries management resources. Whilst some countries have policies in place (some more robust than others), very few seem to be putting them in to practice.

There has been a growth of shark research conducted by experts in the region. This still needs to be completed as scientific research plays a vital role in protecting sharks, not only in the region but also worldwide.

The fourth day focused on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) topics related to shark conservation.

Dr. Elsa Nickel from German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety who presented the European Union proposal at today’s workshop said: “ the principal threat to Lamna nasus is over-exploitation“.

The EU Proposal aims to list the porbeagle (Lamna nasus) in Appendix II of CITES which will be debated at the next (16th) CITES CoP in March 2013 in Bangkok/Thailand.

“A CITES Appendix II listing does not prohibit international trade for commercial purposes. Specimens of species can be traded internationally if their populations and the fisheries are sustainable.” She added.

Luck Warwick, conducted an interactive session on how to use the ‘Identifying Shark Fins’ guide using confiscated shark fin specimens. The guide intends to help enforcement and customs personnel to identify dorsal fins of five shark species.

“Many experts agree that it is necessary to monitor the trade in fins of five shark species of concern: oceanic whitetip, porbeagle and three species of hammerhead sharks (scalloped, smooth and great). This guide shows how easily you can identify the fins of these species.” said Luck Warwick.

H.E. Sultan Al-Elwan Assistant Undersecretary for External Audit at the Ministry of Environment and Water attended the ceremony and recognized all of the participants from various governmental and non-governmental authorities.

--MO

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