Funds are needed to publish an important scientific article on shark conservation on “open access” so it can be freely read by anyone. If you are appalled by the catastrophic depletion of sharks for just one luxury dish, in just one culture, please chip in!
The paper presents the reasons why large predators of great ecological importance cannot supply the rising demand for shark fins, which is driven by profits that rival the drug trade and involves the fisheries of nations around the globe. They have essentially run out of fish so are targeting sharks now that the shark fin trade has made them valuable.
The fishing industry is promoting the shark fin trade under the pretense that commercial shark fishing is sustainable, and has no trouble getting publicity for their propaganda. So it is important that this detailed review paper, which sets the facts straight, will be freely available for everyone who wants to know the true situation.
The fee for publishing on open access ($2570 US) is too high for an independent researcher so we have launched a crowdfunding project, appealing to everyone who is concerned about the disastrous depletion of sharks all around the world for just one recipe—a bowl of luxury shark fin soup—in just one of the world's cultures.
Here is the link for donations: To Publish on Open Access
Here are some of the comments made so far:
"I'm happy to support making important conservation research like this paper to be fully available to the public. The paywall system is terrible. The latest science should be available to everyone!" ~ Mary O'Malley, shark advocate, USA
"Thank you, Ila, for being so persistent in being a voice against the "sustainable shark fishing" lobby. It is important for all of us in advocacy to have accessible peer-reviewed papers that back up our efforts to protect sharks. I hope many more will donate." ~ Stefanie Brendle, shark advocate, USA
"This is an important paper and really needs to be published. The shark fin industry worldwide can never be a sustainable fishery because the "science" behind it is fundamentally flawed in that it completely fails to take full account of the enormously import ecological role that sharks play in the majority of Ocean ecosystems. In addition the science is very biased towards supporting the industry. And of course in my opinion, shark finning is morally and ethically completely wrong." ~Glenn Edney, author, New Zealand
Our review paper is the result of three years of analysis of all relevant scientific studies and covers the effects of seven decades of factory fishing on sharks, the ecological implications, and the economics underlying the current situation in which the shark fin trade provides a demand for the fins of all sharks, while other fish stocks are seriously depleted. Written with two co-authors, Dr. Brian W. Darvell of the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, and Dr. Iris Ziegler of SharkProject, Switzerland, it firmly establishes the reasons why commercial shark fishing cannot be sustainable.
This is a summary:
Fishing records have shown that the shark species accessible to global fisheries have been systematically depleted for decades. They were already fished to about 10 percent of their former levels by 2003. Now, one species after another is being listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as their numbers drop towards extinction.
Shark depletion has not been well documented and a large proportion of shark mortality has been bycatch, the target species being teleost fish. But with the rise in value of shark fins due to the shark fin trade, at the same time as teleost fish stocks have become severely overfished, sharks, along with tuna, have become the most valuable catches.
Fishing on the high seas is scarcely profitable, and so is heavily supported by subsidies. But the shark fin trade, in which organized crime is heavily involved, is driven by enormous profits and provides a powerful demand for the fins of all sharks. Thus it is now being supplied by fisheries around the world. There is no interest in sustainability in consumer countries, and neither the will nor the resources to manage the trade exist.
Although some shark fisheries might have been managed sustainably in some regions for certain species for meat, such fisheries are increasingly dependent on the shark fin trade.
The rising global demand for shark fins, coupled with the increasing depletion of the animals supplying that demand, makes commercial fishing for sharks unsustainable. Given their high ecological value across the aquatic ecosystems they inhabit, it is important that they receive more effective measures of protection going far beyond the currently existing ones.
In particular, protection of all sharks, manta rays, devil rays and rhino rays through an Appendix I CITES listing should be effected immediately due to the scale of the global take of the shark fin trade and the state of shark depletion amply documented in the literature.
We ask for your support
Please consider supporting this long effort to shed the light of published scientific knowledge on the situation surrounding the disastrous depletion of sharks, which has been so effectively screened by shark fishing interests.
Ila France Porcher
Shark ethologist and author