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Marin at forefront of effort to stop shark finning

By Mark Prado
Marin Independent Journal

SAN FRANCISCO — A movement with Marin origins aimed at halting the sale of shark fins for food could become state law under a bill co-sponsored by Assemblyman Jared Huffman of San Rafael.

Using the California Academy of Sciences as a backdrop, Huffman held a press conference Monday to announce legislation that calls for a ban on the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins.

Every year fins from up to 73 million sharks are used for shark fin soup, contributing to the decimation of shark populations worldwide. Once the fins are sliced off a shark's body, the animals are often dumped overboard dead or alive, according to backers of the bill.

With one-third of shark species on Earth threatened with extinction, researchers worry their depletion could cause irreparable damage to marine ecosystems.

"The real issue here is we can't effectively stop the practice of shark finning unless we get after the demand for shark fins," said Huffman, D-San Rafael, who is sharing the legislation with Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino. "If you shut down the demand and the sale, that's the most effective thing you can do to eliminate the practice globally."

Hawaii passed a similar law last year, while Oregon and Washington are looking at similar measures, proponents said.

The practice of finning — removing fins from the shark — is outlawed in American waters, but it occurs in Mexico, China and other locales.


The fins are then shipped to the Bay Area and restaurants across the state.
"We know it's happening in other parts of the world, in fact it is raging," Huffman said. "The price for shark fins has gone up. The demand will keep driving it until we get at the demand."

Shark fin soup is widely available. A U.S. WildAid survey found one-third of Chinese restaurants in San Francisco serving the dish priced from $6.95 to $85 a bowl, and it is considered a delicacy.

State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, opposes the bill, calling it an assault on Asian cultural cuisine.

"The proposed state law to ban all shark fins from consumption — regardless of species or how they were fished or harvested — is the wrong approach and an unfair attack on Asian culture and cuisine," he said in a statement. "Some sharks are well-populated and many can and should be sustainably fished."

But chef Charles Phan, of the Slanted Door restaurant in San Francisco, disagreed. The popular Ferry Building restaurant serves Vietnamese fare.

"People may think it's an attack on the culture, but there is really concrete evidence showing it's destroying sharks. I think most people will stop eating it," he said. "It's just about education."

Mill Valley resident John McCosker, senior scientist and shark expert at the California Academy of Sciences, said finning irreparably hurts populations.

"Sharks are very slow to reproduce, very slow to grow and they have very few young, which makes them extremely vulnerable to over-fishing," he said. "Sharks that are in the Bay Area range to Mexico and they have been caught and finned there. We have lost some that have been tagged near the Farallon Islands."

Shark researcher David McGuire of Fairfax started the effort to ban fin sales. He worked to get the town of Tiburon — which means "shark" in Spanish — to approve a proclamation in 2008 backing a Bel Aire School student effort to raise awareness about finning.

"We started this movement in Tiburon," said McGuire, who heads the Sea Stewards, an organization that works on shark conservation. "I have been working on it for three years. Now we are taking it statewide."
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One way to catch catfish

Sunshine Coast Council lifeguard service's Trent Robinson said in his 10 years on the beaches he had never seen anything like the catfish incident.

“He walked up and said I think I've got a fish in my back and I said ‘give us a look',” he said.

“It was flapping around still connected to his back.

“He got dumped by a wave and hit the sandbank and felt something in his back.

“We called an ambulance. I cut the catfish off because it was flapping around causing pain.

“We put disinfectant on it to try to kill germs.

“The paramedics couldn't get it out either so they took him to hospital.

“It's unbelievable he landed on a fish, let alone got embedded by it.

“They're usually freshwater but probably got flushed out in the dirty floodwater.”
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The world faces the nightmare possibility of fishless oceans by 2050 without fundamental restructuring of the fishing industry, UN experts said Monday.

"If the various estimates we have received... come true, then we are in the situation where 40 years down the line we, effectively, are out of fish," Pavan Sukhdev, head of the UN Environment Program's green economy initiative, told journalists in New York.

A Green Economy report due later this year by UNEP and outside experts argues this disaster can be avoided if subsidies to fishing fleets are slashed and fish are given protected zones -- ultimately resulting in a thriving industry.

The report, which was opened to preview Monday, also assesses how surging global demand in other key areas including energy and fresh water can be met while preventing ecological destruction around the planet.

UNEP director Achim Steiner said the world was "drawing down to the very capital" on which it relies.

However, "our institutions, our governments are perfectly capable of changing course, as we have seen with the extraordinary uptake of interest. Around, I think it is almost 30 countries now have engaged with us directly, and there are many others revising the policies on the green economy," he said.

Collapse of fish stocks is not only an environmental matter.

One billion people, mostly from poorer countries, rely on fish as their main animal protein source, according to the UN.

The Green Economy report estimates there are 35 million people fishing around the world on 20 million boats. About 170 million jobs depend directly or indirectly on the sector, bringing the total web of people financially linked to 520 million.

According to the UN, 30 percent of fish stocks have already collapsed, meaning they yield less than 10 percent of their former potential, while virtually all fisheries risk running out of commercially viable catches by 2050.

The main scourge, the UNEP report says, are government subsidies encouraging ever bigger fishing fleets chasing ever fewer fish -- with little attempt to allow the fish populations to recover.

Fishing fleet capacity is "50 to 60 percent" higher than it should be, Sukhdev said.

"What is scarce here is fish," he said, calling for an increase in the stock of fish, not the stock of fishing capacity."

Creating marine preservation areas to allow female fish to grow to full size, thereby hugely increasing their fertility, is one vital solution, the report says.

Another is restructuring the fishing fleets to favor smaller boats that -- once fish stocks recover -- would be able to land bigger catches.

"We believe solutions are on hand, but we believe political will and clear economics are required," Sukhdev said.

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Killer Whales Eating Dolphins of Australia's South Coast

Some interesting happening with Killer Whales off Australia's South Coast of late. This MP3 recording from Australia's ABC NEWS explains MP3 file
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Mako Shark Ban Reprieve

The Federal Government will draft laws to allow recreational fishers to catch mako sharks.

Fishermen have been concerned that the Government's recent listing of three Australian shark species would make it illegal to catch mako from the end of the month.

The Environment Minister Peter Garrett says the listing came from an international treaty and there is no evidence that Australian sharks are under threat.

The Federal Member for Braddon Sid Sidebottom says Mr Garrett is now considering laws that will allow fishing beyond the end of January.

"The Government has moved to try and correct that unfair issue and has been working on this now for about a month," he said.

"I'm glad to say that Minister Garrett has been able to and will introduce legislation both in the shorter term and the longer term to deal with this."

Recreational fishermen have gathered a national petition of 5,000 signatures seeking a change to the ban.

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Closed seasons for bonefish and tarpon until April

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has issued executive orders to protect Florida's snook, bonefish and tarpon fisheries from further harm caused by the recent prolonged cold weather in the state, which has caused widespread saltwater fish kills.  The FWC has received numerous reports from the public and is taking action to address the conservation needs of affected marine fisheries.  The orders also will allow people to legally dispose of dead fish in the water and on the shore.

One of the executive orders temporarily extends closed fishing seasons for snook statewide until September.  It also establishes temporary statewide closed seasons for bonefish and tarpon until April because of the prolonged natural cold weather event that caused significant, widespread mortality of saltwater fish in Florida.  The other order temporarily suspends certain saltwater fishing regulations to allow people to collect and dispose of dead fish killed by the cold weather.

"A proactive, precautionary approach is warranted to preserve our valuable snook, bonefish and tarpon resources, which are among Florida's premier game fish species," said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto.  "Extending the snook closed season and temporarily closing bonefish and tarpon fishing will protect surviving snook that spawn in the spring and will give our research scientists time to evaluate the extent of damage that was done to snook, bonefish and tarpon stocks during the unusual cold-weather period we recently experienced in Florida."
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Fishermen flee as croc grabs catch


THREE fishermen were forced to make a dash for safety after a curious crocodile crept up on them before stealing a shark they had just reeled in at a Territory beach.

And in what has been described as "a National Geographic moment" it was all caught on camera.

The footage shows the 3m saltie watching the anglers as it lurked in the shallows about 50m from the shore, before eerily darting through the water at speed towards them.

But the croc was not after the burly blokes - it was more interested in the 1m-long whaler shark flipping around on the sand that they had just netted.

Watch the full and unedited croc eats shark video here.

Pictures: What crocs like to eat

The capture of nature at its best was made by Territory Buffalo Safaris owners Brenton and Anne Hurt.

The Darwin-based tour operators had taken a group of American tourists out to the Cobourg Peninsula, about 270km northeast of Darwin, and were throwing in a line off the coast when they noticed the croc watching the action.

Mrs Hurt said the croc moved through the water "pretty quickly".

"It headed straight in for them so they legged it up the beach," she said.

In a panic, the man behind the camera, who was sitting safely atop a cliff face and keeping an eye out on the croc, can be heard on the video yelling, "Guys, get out ... get out!" when he saw the beast honing in on the anglers.

He then firmly told them to get up on the escarpment.

"He can have the fish," he said.

Mrs Hurt said the crocodile was obviously lured in by the shark splashing in the water.

"We were all surprised that it came in with three big men there," she said.

The footage, taken in May, then showed the reptile crawl on to the beach and after taking one snap at the shark and missing, it quickly clamped its jaws over the fish's tail and, looking quite pleased with itself, as it dragged its catch back into the ocean.

The croc showed up on the beach about 100m away with the fish still squirming in its mouth.

Mrs Hurt said they had been conducting hunting tours at the Cobourg Peninsula for about 15 years and that the crocodile population in the area had sky-rocketed.

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Great White Eaten by Bigger Great White

The great white was savaged after it got snared on a drum line - a baited hook attached to a buoy - near North Stradbroke Island, east of Brisbane.
The wounded creature was still alive when a crew hauled it onto a boat, close to Deadman's Beach.
"It certainly opened up my eyes. I mean the shark that was caught is a substantial shark in itself," Queensland Fisheries' Jeff Krause told Australia's Daily Telegraph.
Swimmers have been warned to stay out of the water near the island.
The attack also worried many at a nearby tourist Mecca - Surfers Paradise, south of Brisbane.

Surfer Ashton Smith, 19, of the Gold Coast, told the Courier Mail: "I've heard about the big one lurking. Every surfer is always cautious over here."
Drum lines and shark nets are used to defend swimmers from sea predators, but they have been criticised for occasionally trapping migrating whales.
Fisheries minister Tim Mulherin told the Mail that the capture of the bitten shark - and the indication of a larger one feeding in the area - bolstered the decision to keep defences in place.
He added there were no special plans to hunt the attacking shark but contractors had reset the drum lines.

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Places to go for fly-fishing heaven

A couple of my mates and the father in law disclose their favorite fly fishing locations in the Seattle Times. Click read more to see the whole article

Keith Robbins, owner of A Spot Tail Salmon Guide in Seattle and a fly-fishing expert has a list that would make any fly-angler salivate with envy.

Here are Robbins' picks: Seattle (Puget Sound); Florida Keys, Fla. (Long Key); Alder, Mont. (Ruby, Beaverhead and Big Hole Rivers); Glide, Oregon (Umpqua River); Ellensburg, Wash. (Yakima River); Forks, Wash. (Hoh River); Vancouver Island, B.C. (Wakeman River); Cordova, Alaska (Anderson Island); Biloxi, Miss. (Chandeleur Islands); Vancouver Island, B.C. (Tofino).

R. Peter Van Gytenbeek, the president of the Federation of Fly Fishers and former publisher of Fly Fishing in Saltwaters Magazine has spent a lifetime in preserving wild trout and their habitat.

Here are Van Gytenbeek's picks: Kodiak Island, Alaska (Karluk River); Long Island, N.Y. (Montauk Point); Ennis, Mont. (Madison River); Boca Grande, Fla. (Charlotte Harbor); Green River, Wyo. (Green River below Flaming Gorge Reservoir); Erie, Pa. to Buffalo, N.Y. (Lake Erie, south side small streams); Lewiston, Idaho (Lower Snake River); Medford, Ore. (Rogue River); Grayling, Mich. (AuSable River, birthplace of Trout Unlimited); Islamorada, Fla. (Florida Keys).

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Stealing a blackhole for your cash

GUILFORD, Conn. - A police pursuit on Interstate 95 ended in Guilford when a $175,000 power boat flew off a trailer and bounced onto the highway, causing a traffic backup for several hours.

Police say they arrested 38-year-old  for allegedly stealing the boat from an boat dealer Wednesday and leading officers on a high-speed chase. No one was injured.

Authorities say Holland hooked up the boat's trailer to his pickup truck and drove off shortly before 2 p.m. Police say they had called off the high-speed pursuit and were following at a distance when the boat flew off the trailer when Holland intentionally swerved his truck.

Holland was detained in lieu of $100,000 bail. He could not be reached Thursday, and it isn't clear if he has a lawyer.
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