Sea Shepherd Global offers to help enforce ban on shark trade
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
A LEADING direct-action conservation organisation has expressed interest in assisting local authorities in their efforts to uphold the shark trade ban.
Sea Shepherd Global’s Director of Asia, Gary Stokes, said they are willing to help Brunei implement its blanket ban on the import, catch and sale of shark products after reports of repeated violations against the recent ruling.
“We can and will assist where possible,” he said in an interview, highlighting the need for tougher enforcement and heightened awareness.
In a move to protect the endangered animal, Brunei last year became the first in Asia to impose a total ban on shark products. The law was also introduced to save the country’s dwindling fish resources owing to decades of overfishing.
However, recent news have surfaced of salted shark being sold at major supermarket chains as well as fresh and grilled shark meat made available on the black market.
Stokes said that Sea Shepherd Global can help with producing some of the materials needed to increase awareness about the shark trade ban such as public information leaflets and posters targeting fish markets.
He pointed out there were various ways of raising awareness and that some methods were more effective than others.
“A national television advertising campaign will drive the message right home, but ultimately it is the inspectors at the fish markets and ports of entry that can stop shark products from entering Brunei,” he explained.
He added the organisation would also consider providing advice to the government, but reiterated that enforcement is under the jurisdiction of the authorities.
Since it was founded in Vancouver, Canada in 1977, Sea Shepherd Global has embarked on hundreds of voyages across the world to intervene and uphold international conservation regulations protecting marine wildlife.
In their latest mission to combat illegal fishing, Stokes said they were working with the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) to bring six listed illegal vessels to justice.
Sea Shepherd Global also put up a US$1,000 reward in February for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of a shark trade offender in Brunei, following a string of claims alleging the continued poaching and selling of sharks after the ban took effect.
As apex predators, sharks are vital in keeping the oceans healthy. However, many of its species are believed to be endangered due to overfishing and overconsumption.
The Brunei Times