Sunday, April 24, 2011

Stunning video footage used in fight to save Bahama's sharks

NOAA agent counting confiscated shark fins.Image via Wikipedia

Regardless of how people feel about sharks, or underwater feeding operations that lure sharks in for the benefit of scuba-diving tourists, they're bound to appreciate the spectacular footage in the accompanying video, produced by Joe Romeiro.

It features renowned dive master Cristina Zenato at the center of a feeding session at Grand Bahama Island, and builds to a climax moment when Zenato takes a large shark into her lap and rubs its snout until it becomes so mesmerized that she's able to stand the predator by its snout on the palm of her hand (beginning at the 2:00 mark).

The video, posted Friday on YouTube, (22nd April/11) portrays Caribbean reef sharks as beautiful, graceful creatures that comprise a valued centerpiece attraction of island eco-tourism operations. Romeiro produced the video after learning these same sharks might soon fall victim to large-scale slaughter.
The Bahama Tribune reported recently that there are no laws to protect sharks from finning operations, and that at least one seafood company is considering expanding its cucumber export business on Andros Island to include the export of shark fins to Hong Kong.

"All those sharks could be killed," Romeiro complained.

Shark finning is carried out globally to satisfy demand, mostly in China, for shark-fin soup. Finning operations kill up to 100 million sharks per year, by some estimates, and imperil several shark species.

The waters around the Bahamas contain a robust population of Caribbean reef sharks, which have not yet been targeted. While expanded fishing operations might increase local employment they'd provide only a short-term economic boost, opponents of finning say, lasting only until the sharks were fished out.

Larry Cartwright, the Bahamas' minister of agriculture and marine resources, agreed that sharks ought to be protected but acknowledged that there is no official government position against finning, and that there are no legislative safeguards in place.

"I wouldn't say shark finning is not going to happen here because what's happening elsewhere I am sure will come this way eventually," Cartwright told the Tribune. "And when the time comes we will look into legislation."

Meanwhile, the Bahamas National Trust, in partnership with the Pew Environmental Group, has launched a campaign to create legislation that would ban finning, and nearly a dozen environmental groups, including the Nature Conservancy, have begun lobbying on behalf of the sharks.

With his video, entitled "Nina Salerosa," Romeiro has taken an artistic approach to the campaign. Since Friday (22nd April/11) it has been viewed by more than 15,000 people.

Thanks to Outdoors, action and adventure

Kathy Dowsett
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