Here are the answers to the somewhat leading quiz I dropped yesterday.
1.) B: In the South Africa, the shark catch rate in the longline swordfish fishery dropped 36% when the fishery was required to switch from using J hooks with squid bait to wider circle hooks with fish bait.
A 36% decrease in dead sharks is great, and this result happened in Hawaii as well when fishers there were required to switch to circle hooks with fish bait. This would seem to indicate that circle hooks and fish bait are good for preventing shark bycatch… but hold on. The source paper for this quiz points out that studies have found that fish bait works, but circle hooks don’t. More research is being done, but the key ingredient here appears to be using mackerel as bait instead of squid.
2.) A: Before restrictions on shark finning were enacted, 76% and 64% of sharks were finned in the Hawaii tuna and swordfish fisheries.
This is a case of a regulation working. Before the 2000 state rule requiring fishers to bring back the entire shark carcass belonging to each fin, shark-finning was seen as a way to supplement income using shark bycatch. Heck, if you have a shark flopping around on your boat that you can make a couple bucks off of, why not kill it and take the fin. Then the regulation came along and all of a sudden there’s no money to be had from the shark fin unless you tote 1,000 pounds of worthless meat back to port. In 2006 91% and 93% of sharks were released alive in the same fisheries.
3.) C: In developing countries, shark catches went from 76,000 metric tons in 1950 to 575,031 metric tons in 2000.
It’s the biggest one of course. And that’s just the reported catches. Actual catches are probably much higher. Shark catch by weight in Chile fisheries went from 1000 tons in 1950 to over 10,000 ton in 2005. These shark exports from Chile and Peru go to fresh and frozen meat markets in Uruguay, Spain, Brazil and Colombia.
Photo from the NOAA
4.) C: To avoid injury and increase efficiency, crew kill the shark before removing shark fins.
Many species of shark survive being hooked and dragged on the boat. The study sites that most blue sharks survive being caught and can be returned to the water with a good chance of survival. That means they probably won’t sit still to be finned. I’m not sure how they do the actual killing, though.
5.) C: Out of nine attitudes found in the fishing industry, which of the following was the only one that was NOT identified anywhere the interviews were conducted? We want to minimize shark fishing mortality because we are concerned with overfishing.
The attitudes chart from the report includes this as a possible response, but there are no takers. What does that mean for shark conservation? I would guess that regulatory action and economic incentive are going to be far and away the best way to appeal to the world’s fishers … because they ain’t worried about running out of sharks.