Bahamas Sharks and Sea Urchins Face Harvest Threat

Monday 13th, September 2010 / 12:09 Published by

Bahamian sharks face a new threat as SUNCO Wholesale Seafood Ltd. has announced plans to expand into the export of shark fins caught in the Bahamas. James Mackey, CEO of SUNCO said he may expand his operations, based in North Mastic Point, Andros, to harvest and supply shark-fins for the Chinese market. Mackey was granted an export license for sea cucumbers late last year and is currently “harvesting” a daily average of 5,000 “furry” sea cucumbers.

SUNCO has not yet been granted the necessary additional permissions from the Department of Marine Resources, but many Androsians allege that the company has already explored shark-finning, an allegation denied by Mr. Mackey.

Sharks have never been commercially fished in the Bahamas before and the impact of large-scale shark finning on the Bahamian shark population would be immense. Currently, there are no protective laws in place for sharks in Bahamian waters. In order to try and change this, a petition has been launched urging the government to ban the import and export of shark products.

Eric Carey, executive director of the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) said the Bahamas has one of the healthiest shark populations in the caribbean and attracts divers internationally. This is largely due to the BNT’s legacy of banning long-line fishing in the Bahamas 20 years ago to protect shark populations, which are declining in many areas of the world. Many believe that this decline in sahrk populations is directly related to the growth of the Chinese middle class as shark-fin soup is considered a Chinese delicacy.

According to reports by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) some sharks are already threatened with extinction such as the scalloped hammerhead shark, which has declined by 99 per cent over the past 30 years. A similar fate is facing the oceanic whitetip shark in the Gulf of Mexico

SUNCO may also expand their interests into the harvesting of another Chinese delicacy – the long-spined sea urchin. The bahamas National trust has made it clear that such a move would be opposed as the sea urchin is a crucial element in the sustainance of the coral reefs and is still in a delicate state having just recovered from disease.

The BNT has expressed concern over the growth of the Chinese population in Nassau due to the construction of the stadium and potentially for Baha Mar and is preparing to launch a major shark protection campaign.

Protect the Bahamas environment and marine life.

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