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The Cruelty and Illegality Of Killing Sharks for Fins

A recent report by wildlife trade monitoring group Traffic shows that Indonesia
continues to be the biggest shark-catching country in the world, based on UN Food and
Agricultural Organiation data!
Indonesia"s a#erage annual reported shark catch in the past decade represents more than
$% percent of the reported global catch! Up to &' percent of Indonesia"s catch is taken from the
(acific Ocean and the remainder from the Indian Ocean! In the Indian Ocean, Indonesia owns the
ma)or shark fleets, with a#erage catches fluctuating between *,'++ to $&,'++ tons per year in
recent years! ,ost sharks are predators in coral reef and ocean ecosystems, sitting on top of the
food pyramid and helping control the balance of the marine en#ironment!
-osing one of these predators leads to uncontrolled population growth of other species!
.harks eat sick or wounded organisms to help maintain the ecosystem"s health! /ithout them,
the entire food chain would collapse!The practice of shark-finning has drawn a lot of attention
and reactions! And since social media has made it e#en easier to report incidents, tourists and
di#ers are now able to post their holiday obser#ations!
-ikewise, the progress made in the United .tates and 0ong 1ong on increasing
consumer awareness and the reduced a#ailability of shark-fin soup in restaurants are also
recei#ing a lot of media attention! There is now an increasing outcry for go#ernments to stop
shark-finning!
2Finning3 is a callous and careless practice in which sharks are caught, their fins sliced
off, and their bleeding bodies thrown back into the water where they die a slow and painful
death! Not only is this a cruel practice, it is illegal, inefficient and a waste of food resources!
.cientists ha#e also )oined the international community"s call for urgent action on the
shark-fishing industry, acknowledging that the market for shark fins will continue to grow
because increased buying power will create a bigger consumer base! On top of that, target
species in shark fisheries grow slowly and mature late with few offspring, hence they are easily
o#erfished!
The Indonesian go#ernment has had few legal tools in the past decades to prohibit or
restrict shark fishing! Traffic suggests that the increase in shark and ray fishing in Indonesia has
outgrown e4isting fisheries management approaches! The only regulation and law enforcement
related to shark fisheries and shark products was for sawfish and the implementation of the
regulations was only applied to monitoring and banning the rostrum trade rather than to regulate
trade of other parts of the body as it was considered too difficult to identify the species!
(ursuant to its membership in the UN Food and Agricultural Organiation, Indonesia
was mandated to de#elop a national plan to protect sharks! 5ecogniing the importance of
de#eloping management regulations specific to shark fisheries, a research pro)ect funded by the
Australian 6enter for International Agricultural 5esearch on artisanal shark and ray fisheries in
7astern Indonesia and their relationships with Australian resources, was undertaken in 8++9 to
de#elop a national plan of action!
The plan identifies key issues for shark and ray management in Indonesia and broad
strategies to address these as well as the competent authorities! 0owe#er, there are two big
challenges underlying the implementation of the plan for sharks! First is the considerable illegal
shark fishing in Indonesian waters and some cases of corruption on the part of those charged
with enforcement, and second is the predominance of the artisanal sector in shark catch!
/ithout the willingness to change, and without any strong legal basis to protect sharks and ban
finning, the national plan of action for sharks is not being implemented!
5ecently, the directorate of fisheries resources at the ,inistry of ,arine Affairs and Fisheries
agreed to promulgate regulations : but not until 8+$%!
//F is identified as a partner in implementing the initiati#es identified in the plan! /e
e4amined the laws on animal welfare and protection, and determined that e#en without a #iable
national plan of action, certain pro#isions of e4isting laws on animal welfare could be applied to
implement a ban on shark-finning now!
The two most prominent laws that support a ban on shark-finning are the Indonesian
criminal code and -aw No! $*;8++< on husbandry and animal health! Article %+8 of the
Indonesian criminal code prescribes imprisonment for up to nine months for anyone guilty of
maltreatment of animals, which means anyone who 2without reasonable ob)ecti#e or by
o#erstepping what is permissible in reaching such ob)ecti#e, with deliberate intent3 commits an
act toward an animal resulting in illness longer than one week, mutilation, serious harm or death!
6learly, finning is a mutilation, and e#en if one were to argue that har#esting of shark fin for
soup is a 2reasonable ob)ecti#e,3 finning can hardly be considered a permissible way to achie#e
it! -aw No!$*;8++< on husbandry and animal health contains potent pro#isions on animal
welfare that clearly apply to sharks! .harks are 2animals3 and 2wild animals3 under the law! The
law"s definition of animal welfare is to protect animals 2from any unreasonable action = against
an animal that is beneficial to human beings!3 Article && states that animals must be kept free
from ill treatment, torture and misuse, sub)ect to penalty! 2,isuse3 is defined as obtaining
2satisfaction and;or profit3 from animals by utiliing them 2unreasonably,3 e!g!, 2pulling out a
cat"s claw!3 6ats can li#e without their claws> sharks cannot li#e without their fins!
(ro#isions on animal welfare apply to 2all types of animals that bear backbone,3 and
e#en to spineless animals that can feel pain, such as crabs! If crabs are entitled to fair treatment,
surely sharks deser#e legal protection from finning! /hile the well-being argument will surely
raise many eyebrows in a country where sharks are seen as man-eaters, and pro-poor
de#elopment strategies are not supporti#e of restricting access to more or less free-for-all natural
resources, the public should be aware that it is illegal, under e4isting animal welfare laws, to fin
sharks, and that the go#ernment has neglected its obligation to implement the national plan of
action!
(roper management regulations on shark fisheries need to be enforced, allowing only for
?uota-based culling of shark populations that are not at an o#erfished le#el!
In absence of any such comprehensi#e data, the go#ernment should consider completely banning
all shark fishing, allow for stocks to reco#er, de#elop a meaningful stock monitoring program
and only allow for shark fishing of species that are pro#en to be in healthy stock status, by
communities in coastal areas with small-scale gear, in support of sustainable fisheries and
li#elihoods of those who need it most! It"s time for the go#ernment to act!
/hy is this a problem for human@@ /hy should we care@@ Aa part of world"s ecosystem,
controlling population, paragraph % B what is ecosystem@@ /hy should it balance@@
/hy finning is so important@@@ Ashark will suffer, die slowlyB
0ow does it effect Indonesia@@@
/hy do we need laws and regulation to ban shark finning@@