Fishery scientists looking after their own narrow interests

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 June, 2016, 5:20pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 June, 2016, 5:20pm

I refer to the letter by professors Colin Simpfendorfer and Nick Dulvy (“Cathay Pacific’s shark fin carriage policy is backed by experts”, June 13), trying to justify the continued slaughter of the world’s sharks just to keep afloat the shark-fin industry.

The world’s fisheries are already 90 per cent depleted. So far, these fishery scientists’ persistent misguided belief of chasing the sustainable seafood myth is what has continued to worsen the situation we all now face.

Rather than stop killing endangered species, they seem to believe that “a few” is acceptable.

Take Professor Simpfendorfer, whose Cites (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) NDF (non-detrimental findings) report on hammerhead sharks in Australia claims their population is “data deficient”, yet advises the government that opening up a hammerhead fishery would be acceptable so long as it’s sustainably managed.

He also admits that illegal fishing is present, meaning any quotas are irrelevant, therefore unsustainable.

We see WWF International again showing its true colours. Established by big-game hunters, WWF also supports the Canadian seal hunt and the killing of polar bears.

If these are the experts that Cathay Pacific is listening to, then God help us all, but I believe Cathay is cherry-picking anyone who will sing from its song sheet.

As for Cathay’s persistence, the only reason that makes any sense is that the shark fin/marine products traders must have threatened to pull all of their shipments – which will come to a lot more than the “single-digit tonnage” that a Cathay spokesperson was quoted as saying earlier this year.

This is a quote that Cathay seems to have forgotten in its recent staff news posting, where it stated that no shipments have occurred in the past year.

Another adviser working with Cathay is Fishwell Consulting, which advises the Australian government on sustainable quotas while also having financial interests in the fishery industry. Is this a conflict of interest?

It seems to be a happy little club as Simpfendorfer quotes Ian Knuckey of Fishwell in many of his reports and they were both on Cathay Pacific’s working group.

These people are looking after human interests, protecting livelihoods and food resources, rather than protecting the sharks that face extinction.

If they were paid by Cathay, then they are basically consultants, getting paid to tell the company what it wants to hear.

Gary Stokes, director Asia, Sea Shepherd Global