One would have thought that with my time spent with fisherman these last few years, I would have known the underground of the fishing world. Being underfed, underpaid and many times abused is only the prelude into the underworld of the illegal Asian fishing industry.
Sharks are usually caught along with Tuna and sold on the black market. The fin or full body (depending on the mass weight) of the shark will be kept, depending on the buyers wants. However, in most cases the shark fins are demanded, as it is somewhat of a delicacy in Asian cultures, used n for its texture in soup, it could easily cost up to 100 us dollars a bowl.
one Indonesian explains:
“For sharks, it was up to the captain, sometimes he would tell the crew it was not allowed but if we caught a shark in the line and it was not deliberate and it was dead we would cut the fin. Even if it was alive, however, we would still cut the fin. We did not catch sharks very often. But Taiwanese boats are smart. If there is only little meat, the body will be thrown away after taking the fin. Before shark didn’t have any bans so if we caught shark then we would take the fin for the fin money. Usually the money would be given to the captain. The fins are collected in a chest. Later, in the middle of the sea, it is offloaded. So when we go to land, the fins are already not there. So, if there are any checks, there is no evidence. As it turned out the fins had already been given to the collecting ship. So that’s how the boats manipulate things.’’
Just last week a few fisherman with whom i spoke, admitted having caught and finned sharks, under the instruction of the captain. These young men, mostly in their early twenties, and usually their first time at sea, are unaware of the illegalities of their actions, and regard it as simply part of their job.