INTERNATIONAL SHARK SYMPOSIUM TAIPEI (May 2002)


© John H Harding

According to the most recent statistics released by the Council of Agriculture (行政院農業委With its massive market for shark products, Taiwan is in a strong position to provide international leadership in creating a sustainable environment for shark fishing
By Gavin Phipps / STAFF REPORTER

Long the target of international criticism in relation to questionable fishing practices and a lack of conservation awareness, Taiwan’s fishing industry will be under the spotlight once again this coming week, when the Shark Conference 2002 kicks off in Taipei today.

Organized jointly by the National Taiwan Ocean University (國立台灣海洋大學) and WildAid — a US based non-profit organization — the four-day conference is set to see a host of shark experts from around the world taking to the podium and addressing shark related matters ranging from utilization, conservation and shark attacks.

The choice of Taiwan as the host nation was not made in order to chastise Taiwan’s much-maligned fishing industry, however. Instead the nation was chosen by WildAid because the NGO believes that Taiwan’s fishing industry has the potential to become a role model for fishing industries across the globe in the area of shark conservation and shark fishery management.

“We’re not here to criticize Taiwan, but encourage [it],” stated Peter Knights, director and founder of WildAid. “Taiwan was chosen not only because it is a hub of shark fishing and importation, but also because we feel that Taiwan is in a unique position to show leadership in the field of utilization and sustain-ability.”

With an annual catch of between 30 to 50 thousand tons, or 7 percent of a global shark catch totaling roughly 800 thousand tons, Taiwan is the world’s fifth largest producer of shark-based products behind Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Spain.

According to the most recent statistics released by the Council of Agriculture (行政院農業委員會), which are based on a study undertaken in 2000, of the 47,741 tons of shark caught that year, 38,447 tons was taken from far seas shark fisheries and 9,294 tons was taken from coastal shark fisheries in the seas adjacent to the township of Suao (蘇澳) on Taiwan’s east coast.

In addition, Taiwan is also a major importer of shark. In recent year’s sales of shark caught by fishing fleets based out of India, the Philippines and Spain have increased in order to fulfill the demand for shark in Taiwan. The meat is primarily used in the manufacture of fish balls.

“We’re not opposed to the fishing of shark or the eating of shark. The situation is that the fishing of sharks is unmanaged. This is what makes it unsustainable, as nobody knows the actual numbers of sharks in the oceans,” continued Knights.

According to Knights, one way in which Taiwan can help monitor shark populations is to offer financial incentives to fisherman to tag sharks rather than to slaughter them. While this task is undertaken by universities and government bodies in Australia and the US, the concept is relatively new to Taiwan.

“With the exception of the fin, shark is not a high-end fish product. In fact, its meat is cheap and considered second rate by most people,” explained Liu Kwang-ming (劉光明), professor at the National Taiwan Ocean University’s department of fishery science (國立台灣海洋大學魚業科學學系). “This is one of the main reasons shark fishing hasn’t been monitored as closely as tuna fishing, for which extensive records dating back nearly 50 years exist.”

At present the most frequently used method of collecting data on shark populations in the seas around Taiwan is word of mouth. This rough and ready method relies on fishermen comparing the size of last year’s catch with this year’s. Needless to say, this only gives authorities a very rough estimate as to the actual number of sharks in Taiwan’s territorial waters.

“Official records of what is caught are nearly non-existent. Those that do exist state whether the sharks are big or small but provide little data regarding the species or location of the catch,” continued Liu. “This is something that needs to change if the extermination of certain species of sharks is to be avoided.”

While accurate records are scarce, conservationists firmly believe that the plankton eating whale shark is one species native to the waters of the South China Sea that is close to extinction. To make matters worse, the whale shark is also the most commonly eaten shark in Taiwan.

“Taiwan is the only country in the world where a commercial market for whale shark exists. Because of this, a thriving trade in whale sharks has sprung up in the waters around the Philippines and extending to the Indian Ocean,” said Knights. “And once again, Taiwan is in a perfect position to put an end to this simply by limiting the number of whale sharks caught on an annual basis.”

In August last year the Central Government stepped into the fray surrounding the whale shark. Regulations now exist that limit the number of whale sharks that can be caught annually to 80.

While WildAid firmly believes that Taiwan’s coastal shark fisheries have the potential to become world leaders in conservation and sustainability, a certain degree of negativity still surrounds the local shark fishing industry.

Shark finning, or the retention of the sharks fin and the discarding of the carcass is still common practice, especially among Taiwan’s far seas fleet. Shark fins are seen by many crews an opportunity to earn a little extra cash.

 

Silky shark off Sydney (1967) by JH Hardding

“More often than not finning is undertaken by the crew as a sideline when the boats are in waters some distance from Taiwan,” said Knights. “For example, one Taiwan ship was recently intercepted by the coast guard in waters off Hawaii with 2.6 tons of fins and no carcasses.”

Although Hong Kong is the undisputed center of the international trade in shark fin — with 90 percent of the world’s shark fins passing through processing plants in the ex-British colony — the market for shark fin products in Taiwan has increased.

And while coast guard units are now willing to intercept and confiscate illegally collected fins, both Liu and Knights agree that the only real way in which to stop the practice of finning is to take their arguments to the marketplace.

In order to do this Knights and WildAid have, for the first time, invited shark fin dealers to participate in the up-coming conference.

“While the United Nations and its Food and Agriculture Organization have condemned the practice and fishermen caught with more fins than carcasses now face charges, we are still waiting for dealers to openly condemn finning,” concluded Knights. “Once this is done and fishermen realize that dealers won’t purchase fins that have been gathered illegally, the bottom goes out of the market and the horrific practice will be brought to an end sooner rather than later.”
員會), which are based on a study undertaken in 2000, of the 47,741 tons of shark caught that year, 38,447 tons was taken from far seas shark fisheries and 9,294 tons was taken from coastal shark fisheries in the seas adjacent to the township of Suao (蘇澳) on Taiwan’s east coast.

In addition, Taiwan is also a major importer of shark. In recent year’s sales of shark caught by fishing fleets based out of India, the Philippines and Spain have increased in order to fulfill the demand for shark in Taiwan. The meat is primarily used in the manufacture of fish balls.

“We’re not opposed to the fishing of shark or the eating of shark. The situation is that the fishing of sharks is unmanaged. This is what makes it unsustainable, as nobody knows the actual numbers of sharks in the oceans,” continued Knights.

According to Knights, one way in which Taiwan can help monitor shark populations is to offer financial incentives to fisherman to tag sharks rather than to slaughter them. While this task is undertaken by universities and government bodies in Australia and the US, the concept is relatively new to Taiwan.

“With the exception of the fin, shark is not a high-end fish product. In fact, its meat is cheap and considered second rate by most people,” explained Liu Kwang-ming (劉光明), professor at the National Taiwan Ocean University’s department of fishery science (國立台灣海洋大學魚業科學學系). “This is one of the main reasons shark fishing hasn’t been monitored as closely as tuna fishing, for which extensive records dating back nearly 50 years exist.”

At present the most frequently used method of collecting data on shark populations in the seas around Taiwan is word of mouth. This rough and ready method relies on fishermen comparing the size of last year’s catch with this year’s. Needless to say, this only gives authorities a very rough estimate as to the actual number of sharks in Taiwan’s territorial waters.

“Official records of what is caught are nearly non-existent. Those that do exist state whether the sharks are big or small but provide little data regarding the species or location of the catch,” continued Liu. “This is something that needs to change if the extermination of certain species of sharks is to be avoided.”

While accurate records are scarce, conservationists firmly believe that the plankton eating whale shark is one species native to the waters of the South China Sea that is close to extinction. To make matters worse, the whale shark is also the most commonly eaten shark in Taiwan.

“Taiwan is the only country in the world where a commercial market for whale shark exists. Because of this, a thriving trade in whale sharks has sprung up in the waters around the Philippines and extending to the Indian Ocean,” said Knights. “And once again, Taiwan is in a perfect position to put an end to this simply by limiting the number of whale sharks caught on an annual basis.”

In August last year the Central Government stepped into the fray surrounding the whale shark. Regulations now exist that limit the number of whale sharks that can be caught annually to 80.

While WildAid firmly believes that Taiwan’s coastal shark fisheries have the potential to become world leaders in conservation and sustainability, a certain degree of negativity still surrounds the local shark fishing industry.

Shark finning, or the retention of the sharks fin and the discarding of the carcass is still common practice, especially among Taiwan’s far seas fleet. Shark fins are seen by many crews an opportunity to earn a little extra cash.

“More often than not finning is undertaken by the crew as a sideline when the boats are in waters some distance from Taiwan,” said Knights. “For example, one Taiwan ship was recently intercepted by the coast guard in waters off Hawaii with 2.6 tons of fins and no carcasses.”

Although Hong Kong is the undisputed center of the international trade in shark fin — with 90 percent of the world’s shark fins passing through processing plants in the ex-British colony — the market for shark fin products in Taiwan has increased.

And while coast guard units are now willing to intercept and confiscate illegally collected fins, both Liu and Knights agree that the only real way in which to stop the practice of finning is to take their arguments to the marketplace.

In order to do this Knights and WildAid have, for the first time, invited shark fin dealers to participate in the up-coming conference.

“While the United Nations and its Food and Agriculture Organization have condemned the practice and fishermen caught with more fins than carcasses now face charges, we are still waiting for dealers to openly condemn finning,” concluded Knights. “Once this is done and fishermen realize that dealers won’t purchase fins that have been gathered illegally, the bottom goes out of the market and the horrific practice will be brought to an end sooner rather than later.”

Surfing magazines educate readers on hazards. It has not stopped sharks biting surfers and even their boards. Western Australia has clocked up many fatal bites since this issue went on sale in 2000.
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CONTROLLING SHARKS WITH BEACH NETS (Queensland)


Henri filmed sharks caught in beach meshing nets at Greenmount (Coolangatta) Queensland. 1966.

HOW BEACH NETS WORK PREVENTING SHARK BITES

Improvements to minimize ‘collateral damage’ could be costly yet feasible to diffuse anger promoted by environmental agencies. An obvious example might be:  

1. Better positioning (where nets are placed deeper and touching the sand,

2. Leaving sufficient above-net space for surface animals to pass above); 

3. Divers inspecting nets every few hours to release non sharks;  

4. Tagging and releasing some sharks except the meshing net principle is, trapped, struggling or dead sharks warn other sharks to stay from danger (they are not stupid).

 

Frame from 16mm film (John Harding)
Frame from 16mm film (John Harding)

HENRI BOURCE “Savage Shadows” (1966)


“Savage Shadows” PART ONE (above), Part TWO (below).”Savage Shadows” PART ONE (above), Part TWO (below).

Shark bitten survivors, Raymond Short with Henri Bource in 1966

F2HB

Henri Bource at North Stradbroke Island, Queensland during his marine filming project "Savage Shadows".© John Harding 2016
Henri Bource at North Stradbroke Island, Queensland during his marine filming project “Savage Shadows”.© John Harding 2016

Same Shovelnose sharks from a different angle.

 

Rodney Fox made these two catches very late in the day. 1966.

henrB.jpg

Henri portrait

F2-Henri-Ray Henri Bource returns to the sea

Meanwhile, to combat phantom pains (itches and aches etc.) in the lost lower half of a leg, Henri learned self hypnosis soon after his ‘accident’ as he called the shark attack.

The effect was, he could explain how the shark bit his leg off and almost turn the incident into humor, sometimes.

So convincing was his attitude to living normal life, without thinking I once criticized him for parking in a disabled parking space.

Henri Bource (sax) lower front. Leading Melbourne band, supported top overseas acts 1960s.
Henri Bource (sax) in front. Leading Melbourne band, supported the Lee Gordon stars visiting during 1960s.

 

 

amitypoint2,jpg

 

Mike Perry checks our boat, Amity Point, Queensland

We three rented a cabin where, at high tide, the sea water was under the floor. That cabin and many others have since disappeared as the western coast of this big sandy island slowly washes away.

The Australian mainland is seen in the distance, across Moreton Bay. To the south out of sight is The Gold Coast – in the opposite direction is Queensland’s capital city, Brisbane.

Two years ago bull shark(s) attacked and killed a swimmer just 50 meters from where Mike is standing.

Our shark diving was around the corner and offshore at a small rocky island 3 km from the holiday village of Point Lookout.

Occasional large tiger sharks are a possibility, attracted by the availability of  stingrays and a few manta rays.

SHARK ENCOUNTERS – REAL ADVENTURE


Still from the video on YouTube
Still from the video on YouTube

Library No. ISBN 0 9593669 03    (66 pages – 40 pages in color).

 Published by Ron Taylor Film Productions Pty.Ltd. (1981).

 Valerie Taylor reports on their first tests of the steel anti-shark dive suit, with their  encouraging a shark bite on a replica diver in South Australia.

This stunt upset local divers at the time who claimed it may be training sharks to bite human forms.

Even more scary for pro abalone divers today might be the observation on how the steel suit had one test shark very agitated due to possible electrical fields generated, since the original steel suit was purchased by several divers.

As reported in the USA large circulation diving magazine. 1981.

FORMER VIEWPOINTS


Summer shark sightings, east coast beaches

Watching TV news reports from reliable sources like ABC made me realize again how little shark knowledge is widely understood by reporters, and public relations wildlife officers. Then again when ‘news’ is reduced to 10 second grabs what can be expected?

I asked Peter Bristow to comment on his knowledge of white pointers sharks jumping clear of the water while attacking prey. I was wondering if these spectacular on film jumps were a newly learned behavior by the sharks. None of the reference books on sharks had, until recently, covered this aspect of the shark.

How informative books and magazines of the past had missed reporting on white sharks jumping mystified me.

bobdyer.jpg

SHARK FISHERMEN OF SOUTHERN QUEENSLAND

Peter Bristow writes:

I didn’t go shark fishing with Bob Dyer but was close to him at the time, and to all the old boys in the Moreton Bay Game Fishing Club. Most of us were members of the old Royal Queensland Yacht Club too.

We got to see the latest film footage of shark fishing at the game club meetings. I was a member of both clubs.

The best stuff was 16mm B&W by Bill Fulham and Tom Fanning. They had action of whites in the air, just you see in the material with their feeding on seals today.

They all had good jump footage but I don’t think anyone outside the club meeting ever got to see it.

Whites can jump like Mako sharks (aka blue pointer shark) when hooked if they are in the mood. That was common knowledge amongst those guys.

I was honestly not interested in shark fishing spending all my time at Point Lookout catching mackerel and black king.

Something those guys knew nothing about.

The Great Whites came up the coast with the sea mullet shoals in May. I lived at Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island, and saw it all.

This migration coincided with humpback whales on their annual passage north to the GBR for their calving season.

When the whaling started along the coast at Byron Bay and Tangalooma, (on Moreton Island) it was a natural course of events for the whites to home-in on the action.

Before long there was a good concentration of whites (waiting for them) off Cape Moreton where the humpbacks passed fairly close to the coast.

The dead (harpooned) whales were towed into Yellow Patch and buoyed ready for towing to Tangalooma, (whale processing factory) on the bay side of the island.

Yellow Patch was where most of the shark fishing was done in relatively calm water.

They used large chunks of whale meat to attract the sharks. This practice was soon frowned upon by the international sport fishing people resulting in mammal flesh being banned for attracting sharks.

The results of this fishing technique were so astounding that records created by Bob and Dolly Dyer (Radio and then TV quiz show celebrity hosts and big game fishermen) during that early period have never been beaten.

Twenty years ago, the Great Whites were still frequenting Cape Moreton. The last time I was fishing there, two were behind the boat, both very big fish.

One shark that Bob wanted was a legend in the area. The chaser ships would anchor at Yellow Patch for the night and this great thing would come and lay along side.

The big shark apparently liked the warm water from the boilers. Norwegian chaser ships named KOS 1 and KOS 2 were oil-fired steam so there was always plenty of warm water.

They estimated this shark to be between 4000 and 5000 lb. It would never take the bait.

Bob (Dyer) had hook and bait in front of it on more than one occasion without result. They called it Big Ben

Thinking about the chap eaten in WA the other day and after reading Ron’s comments; I guess the poor chap did not have time to push the thing away!

I had actually met him while in WA years ago. Copyright. Peter Bristow 2009.

SHARK CAGE DIVING PROBLEMS

Isla Guadalupe Chum Ban?

The quick answer to many of the chum ban questions for 2009 is yes, the complete ban on chumming is still in effect at Isla Guadalupe.

Did it affect us in 2008? Yes and no. The Mexican Navy declared no chumming last season and went as far as sending a navy frigate to enforce the ban. Our divers still saw sharks and the value for them was still high.