23 June, 2008

Raping our Oceans

"Raping our Oceans" is part II of the award-winning masterwork titled Hominids by Patrick Schwarz of Scuba Seraya Resort in Bali (Indonesia). Just in case you missed Part I read it here.

This week I decided to complement Patrick's contribution with some of the pictures I took on my most recent trip to Bali. Stay tuned for Part III... coming soon!

Raping Our Oceans:

What personally angers me most and outright scares me is how humanity treats our oceans. 90% of the world’s original fish populations since the advent of industrialization have disappeared. Coral reef fish vanish along with their bombed out and poisoned habitats. Fish stocks are less and less renewed as their micro breeding grounds, the mangroves, are being eroded. Extinction of more and more species continues at an alarming rate. I see fewer and fewer sharks on every dive, and I am fully aware that this is not just a matter of perception, but in line with actual declining shark population estimates. Yet long line fishing for sharks goes on unabated even in designated protected areas in all oceans of the world. More than a hundred thousand shark fins continue ending up as a Chinese delicacy daily. While protection used to be at work with the cooperation of the Costa Rican government for the shark grounds in the Pacific Cocos islands, Taiwan has bribed Costa Rica with massive investments. Taiwanese long liners now find safe harbours in Costa Rica along with docking, processing and shipping facilities. Similarly, the protection of the Galapagos Islands fishing grounds is a subject of constant tugs of wars due to political bickering.
An alarming trend has started in the shark fins trade. They – the illegal fishermen, their mafia style middle men and high ranking organizers are aware of diminishing supplies. They utilize technology and are internet savvy. In his blog, renowned underwater photo-journalist Tony Wu suspects that the rich shark grounds at the Eastern Fields dive sight in Papua New Guinea that included guaranteed sightings of Hammerhead sharks, had been fished out in between dive live-aboard visits. They must have read on the internet where we visit, enjoy and photograph our sharks. Does the pursuit of the sport of the divers among us these days necessitate that we must act like spies, disguising where we shoot our pictures, and travelling to remote dive sites by pretending false routes, making sure there are no malevolent spotters in pursuit?
Perhaps most telling just how far shark-finning has depleted the oceans is the fact that they know that it is late, and that the end may be near, meaning there will soon be no more catch. So it is time to make a killing on the market with what is left; the savvy middle men have started hoarding shark fins like a high value commodity (remember Blood Diamonds?), waiting for prices to go up, as evidenced with the increasing number of warehouses full of shark fins and tightly secured in Asian distribution centres.

To be continued..........
All pictures appearing on this post were taken by Marco Gorin whom retains theis copyrights.

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