Wednesday, 31 December 2008
Oh sweet sigh of relief, it's the end of 2008. As the hands of time approach midnight for us here in the UK, we look back on another year of wonderment at the inane stupidity of our race. New year always fills me with a sense of excited anticipation, and draws with it a concentration of all the bad things that happened in the passing year as it slides into nothingness. But really, the tingle of anticipation is merely a caffeine jab during an annual coffee break in the endless march of time. Deep down even though we hope for better, in 12 months time we will be thinking of all the bad things that happened in the last year and hoping for improvement.
2009 has been designated International Year of the Shark, an idea initiated by The Shark Group, so to help out in this worthy amassing of likeminded souls in favour of our dwindling sharks, then please join up with the facebook group or the Shark Group list (see links) to keep up to date with what's going on throughout the year.
Whilst I like to keep up to date with shark news from around the world, I rarely post it on here, as there are plenty of avid bloggers from around the world much better at news blogging than I. However, recent events in Australia made me ponder the relationship between ourselves and the natural world.
Thanks to advances in global media aquisition, we can now happily partake in, and enjoy, freely shot home-video standard editing from a consumer-cam shooter on many news subjects. Whislt this 'advancement' is a cursed bane to all in the media industry except the corporate accountants, it does allow us to look at the story without worrying whether some vital information had been cleverly left out.
If you take a look at the first link, you will see what appears to be a disgruntled grudge bearing shark hungrily circling some aussie kayakers, and you would be fogiven for thinking that this might be the case. But, a little later on in the shaky filming, we can see a healthy collection of fishing rods attached to each canoe. I would imagine that the shark was attracted to the bait used in the fishing process, as opposed to the skinny australian kayaker floating on his piece of inert plastic. If we hadn't been able to see that vital piece of visual information, we would have been at the mercy of the writer and his opening paragraph.
The second piece also involves the attraction of a great white to fishing activity, and the couples' close shave as it again bumped their boat. The two events demonstrate well our misgiven superiority over the natural world, or at least a grave lack of education in marine enviromental safety.
crab with extra salad?
After reading these pieces, I imagined how surprised or not you would be if you baited hyenas in the serengeti to get good photos of them, and then got eaten by a lion, and whether there would be a gruff khaki wearing guy in the backgroud claiming they should have all been shot.
Thanks cheap media. THE TRUTH WILL OUT.
Sunday, 21 December 2008
Members of international conservationists "The Shark Group" are breathing a sigh of relief after online trading giant Taobao.com promised to end its controversial online trade in shark fins.
Taoboa.com, a subsidiary of Alibaba.com has received close attention from various conservation groups worldwide, who have been highly critical of their online trade in shark fin products facilitated by alibaba company policy to facilitate free trade, even in endangered species.
The issue had been complicated by a lack of control in international trade in shark products, and the near impossible task of identifying protected and non protected species. Some shark species are protected by international trade laws, and some are not. Identification of different shark species is nearly impossible once the fins have been removed from the bodies.
This week, Alibaba, china's biggest online marketplace, bowed to pressure and announced that the decision by taobao was a company-wide initiative, and that it encouraged its users to report any incidences of shark fin trade, saying that perpetrators would be "suitably punished". The announcement follows a move to ban all trade in endangered species on the group's websites in an attempt to paint a more ethical company face.
A tireless campaign was mounted by members of The Shark Group to pressurise Alibaba to ban the sale of shark fin products by its member traders. Online trade in shark fins accounts for a significant portion of total fins traded, with a number of suppliers claiming to be able to supply in excess of 2 tonnes per month (around 50,000 sharks).
Although this is a red letter day in the conservation movement's diary, there is still a long way to go. In excess of 100 million sharks are slaughtered every year to satisfy demand for shark fin soup, and online trade represents only a portion of that trade. Open markets exist in many parts of Asia, and The Shark Group was quick to point out that the trade could resurface in other forms, and that demand for shark fin soup remained high.
The shark group was formed in 2007 by Alex "Sharkman" Buttigieg and Ila France Porcher and has quickly gained momentum as a premium force in shark conservation. They have initiated 2009 as International Year of the Shark which has attracted support from all corners of the globe, and this event marks a good start to the year.