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Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Swordfish + Mercury, Shark Fins + Soup
Last week Earth-Info.Net attended a talk given by Ronny Jumeau, the Minister for the Environment in the Seychelles.

Ronny highlighted various environmental problems faced by small island states, in particular how climate change is increasing beach erosion + altering rainfall patterns in ways that may soon threaten the important tourism industry.

Mercury pollution from industrialised nations was also highlighted as a problem because it is accumulating in the bodies of the Seychelle's top marine predators, such as swordfish... with the result that European nations are warning pregnant mothers and children against eating swordfish and have recently banned the import of swordfish from the Seychelles into the EU. The loss of this market has resulted in a delay to a much needed ban on shark finning as the government cannot afford to compensate fisherman for the loss of their livelihood... Ronny also observed that local fisherman have adapted to their predicament by buying fishing boats in neighbouring French islands that are still able to import into the EU, because they were considered part of France. There being a certain irony in this as the swordfish in the French area are larger and thus likely to have accumulated even more mercury...

The delay of a ban on shark fishing is serious because the trade in shark fins, which make up only 4-7% of overall bodyweight, threatens to decimate shark populations + disrupt ecosystems in the Seychelles... as it already has in other areas of the world, such as the North Atlantic , Costa Rica + the Galapagos

As slow-growing, top predators the killing of 100,000,000 sharks per year for expensive soup is likely to be just as serious as the current, unsustainable loss of lions in Africa... even though sharks have fewer human admirers.

Find out more about the threats to sharks by visiting the Shark Trust website.