Shark Fin Scandal Friday 13 July 2007 PDF Print SHARK LEAVES A BITTER TASTE Is that £180 bowl of shark fin soup really worth its eco-cost? Did you know that this Saturday, July 14th, is official Shark Awareness Day? Much as we love to hate this fearsome predator of the seas, the shark has a key role to play, keeping marine ecosystems in balance. Worldwide, over 100 million sharks are killed each year and the main attraction for most hunters is their fins, which fetch a good price. It’s common for sharks to be captured, stripped of their fins, then thrown back into the sea to drown. This barbaric practice is widespread and disturbing, particularly when it happens in an unspoiled paradise such as the Galapagos Islands. These astonishing islands inspired Darwin to write his great work on evolution and today this unique archipelago is home to 30 species of shark. It’s an outstanding tourist attraction, with its diverse and rare reptiles including the famed giant tortoises; its stunning variety of bird life, from the waved albatross to the blue footed booby; and the amazing range of marine creatures thronging the seas in the Galapagos Marine Reserve. Straddling the Equator some 600 miles from the coast of Ecuador, this is one of the largest protected ocean areas on the planet, including some 130,000 square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean. Tourists flock to see shoals of rare fish, turtles and hammerhead shark in this idyllic habitat. The Galapagos Conservation Trust (GCT) is calling for all UK restaurants serving shark fin soup to think long and hard about the environmental consequences of their menu choice. The fins are sold at premium rates, which encourage poaching within the protected waters of the Galapagos Marine Reserve, illegal trading and even money laundering from the proceeds of the drug trade in nearby countries such as Colombia. The economics are depressing, the cruelty sickening. Here in the UK we have a well-deserved image as a nation of animal lovers. Our chefs should set an example for the rest of Europe and refuse to buy or sell shark fin. If a Europe-wide ban can be introduced, then world attitudes would have to alter. See a shark in a new light: this awesome marine predator deserves our support. FACTS ABOUT SHARK FINNING • 100 million sharks are killed annually worldwide • 200 sharks are killed every minute • Many millions die a slow death, robbed of their fins • Sharks reproduce late in life and have few offspring • 10,000 tonnes of shark fins are traded around the world • Shark finning is associated with crime and corruption • In Galapagos, shark killing disturbs a very fragile ecosystem Notes for Editors: Galapagos General Information In 1978 the Galapagos were designated as the first World Heritage site, and when the Galapagos Marine Reserve was established in 1998, that too was designated a World Heritage Site. They are a Biosphere Reserve, a Whale Sanctuary, a RAMSAR site and they have recently been designated as one of only two Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSA) by the International Maritime Authority. In Fernandina they possess the largest 'near pristine' island in the world. Today the islands boast the highest standard of living of any province in Ecuador but, with a rapidly growing population, conflicts have inevitably arisen between the population needs and the fragile Galapagos ecosystem. The pressures on the archipelago's natural resources threaten their biodiversity and ecological integrity, as well as the sustainability of the natural resources upon which the livelihoods of the islanders depend. As the population grows, these pressures are likely to increase rather than decrease. More than ever there is a need for all involved to work together to influence decision makers, in order to preserve these unique and beautiful islands for all their inhabitants and for the world. Galapagos Conservation Trust is the only dedicated UK Galapagos support charity. Established in 1995, GCT generates income for numerous projects to protect the unique biodiversity of the islands and to meet the challenges of keeping the islands’ human population in balance with its native wildlife. GCT also provides crucial support to the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island. For more information visit the website www.gct.org or www.savegalapagos.org Media Contact: John Harris Tel: 020 7629 5049 Email: email@example.com This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Galapagos Conservation Trust in the following categories: Environment & Nature, Food & Drink, Travel, for more information visit http://pressreleasewire.responsesource.com/about.