Shark finning runs rampant in China’s longline fleet

by | Nov 10, 2022

The vessels of the Delian Ocean Fishing company are known for using prohibited fishing gear and operate in international waters cutting off the fins and discarding the carcasses of various shark species.

There is information that can be considered true that only five vessels exploited up to 5.1 metric tons of shark fins in the Pacific Ocean in 2019. The information gathered is based on interviews with former DOF fishers. The crews of thirty-five vessels were interviewed for this purpose.

The DOF is a semi-state-owned enterprise, which demonstrates the harmful and negligent fishing policies of the Chinese government. The impact of this fleet is enormous and the activity of these vessels targets species that are either near extinction or critically endangered according to IUCN criteria.

Longliners practice a commercial fishing technique in which thousands of baited hooks are dragged with bait aimed at catching tuna and other fish. But DOF vessels used prohibited gear to deliberately catch tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of sharks each year, including protected species such as the critically endangered oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus).

Rachel Hopkins, a representative of The Pew Charitable Trusts, the organization that conducted the study and interviews stated that:

“The fact that a handful of fishing vessels may be catching more sharks than the total catch of their entire flag state jeopardizes sustainability, threatens scientists’ understanding of the status of shark populations, and puts responsible fishing operations at a competitive disadvantage.”

It is quite common for governments such as China’s and its massive fishing fleets to ignore and breach international conventions and treaties that, for example, regulate tuna fishing on the high seas and the international trade of threatened or endangered species.

In Costa Rica we unfortunately cannot forget the recent history of foreign fleets, which also operated in international waters and with the approval of our fisheries authorities, landed shark fins without their bodies at private docks in Puntarenas.

We finally succeeded in 2010 in closing the private docks and we contributed effectively so that shark landings are given under the strict obligation of fins attached in a natural way.

As you know, these struggles have not been easy due to the disinterest and lack of political will of our state institutions, which we have had to take to the constitutional courts on several occasions.

It is sad that these foreign fleets are now concentrating on other areas doing the same or greater damage to shark populations. And above all that their activity has the endorsement of the Chinese government.

We support the efforts of the PEW, because like CREMA in our country, it is the voice of the sharks of the Pacific Ocean. We must remain vigilant and active because our country decided to establish relations with China and many times these relations are flawed by dangerous concessions, which could result in the delivery of our marine resources to these Chinese longline fleets.


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