Fiji: More monitoring needed to adress shark vulnerability
Fiji Ministry of Information
July 16 2012
MORE MONITORING NEEDED TO ADRESS SHARK VULNERABILITY
The vulnerability of shark species and their depleting status in the region has become an area of priority analysis for Fiji and the Oceania Fisheries Programme or OFP.
Stock assessments of the status of silky shark and oceanic white – tip shark within the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) will be presented to the Western Central Pacific Tuna Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) Scientific Committee meeting in August 2012, while an assessment for the blue shark is planned for presentation to the Scientific Committee meeting in August next year.
Key shark species interactions within the Fiji long line fishery include blue sharks, pelagic stingray, silky shark, oceanic white tip sharks, and short finned mako.
“Observer information shows that the majority of these are discarded, although fining may first occur leading to high mortality. No interactions with whale sharks have been noted within the fishery,” said the Department of Fisheries senior trade officer Mr Joela Cama
“Observations of the state of key captured shark species when brought alongside the long – line vessel suggests that many of the individuals are alive and healthy, and would survive the interaction if cut off the line and returned to the water”, Mr Cama added.
Fiji, he says has implemented the provisions of the WCPFC CMM-2010-07, which includes requirements to retain a specific minimum ratio of fin weight to carcass weight, as well as an encouragement to release live sharks.
“Wire tracers are banned within the Fiji fishery, given that these are known to increase shark catch rates as sharks are unable to bite through these and escape capture. Also there is currently no National Plan of Action for sharks, although it is understood that developments are underway to further reduce shark interactions in the fishery,” Mr Cama said.
The industry-specific initiatives also exist in this lucrative market as shark interactions are likely to come under increasing scrutiny in the coming year.
Fiji has already collect data on key sharks at the species level.
Mr Cama added that continued and expanded monitoring of shark interactions through observers into the future is recommended.
Source: Fiji Government