Indonesia: Shark Fin Fasting Needed for Population Regrowth -- WWF Indonesia

Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 26 Jan 17;

Jakarta. With a number of Indonesia’s endemic shark species rapidly nearing extinction, WWF Indonesia has implored shark fin soup enthusiasts to rein in their appetites.

“Right now, we need to abstain from shark fin [delicacies], and if the population is controlled in the future, people can enjoy [shark fin] if they want to – but only if that happens,” WWF Indonesia fishers program leader, Imam Musthofa Zainudin, said on Wednesday (25/01).

With Indonesia serving home to about 26 percent of the world’s shark species, up to 109,248 tons of shark fin are drawn from the nation's waters.

The country is also the world's largest producer of shark delicacies and is the third largest exporter.

Although not all shark species in Indonesia are nearing extinction, Imam stated that if consumption patterns like shark-derived delicacies continue, the apex predator could be wiped off from oceans by 2048, just as predicted by renowned Canadian ecologist Boris Worm.

“Indonesia largely depends on fisheries so this is about food security too – if all the sharks are gone, we would have to start eating plankton soup,” the seascapes leader said.

Imam explained that there is a common misconception about conservation, where killing should be completely written off.

He argues that without controlled hunting, it would throw the ecosystem off balance, especially as sharks are the top predators of the sea.

He stated that certain countries adopt sustainable fishing and hunting to ensure a balance in the food chain, thus endangering food security for humans.

“All we need is strong law enforcement and control, so [shark fin] can be eaten if you can count each and every shark that is in our waters,” Iman explained. “It all depends on our commitment.”

Last year in Jakarta, 30 percent of hotels and 38 percent of restaurants still serve shark fin soup on their menus.

However, this is a drop of 20.32 percent in shark fin soup consumption for restaurants in Jakarta, with 12,622 kilograms of shark fins per year in 2016, compared to 15,840 kilograms of shark fins per year in 2013.

WWF Indonesia also states that there is a global demand of 73 million tons of shark fins per year, with the highest coming from Hong Kong.

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