Articles Comments

Divetalking » Report, Sharks » Shark Fishing Banned in the Bahamas

Shark Fishing Banned in the Bahamas

Many beach visitors cannot get past the image of the shark as a ravenous man-eater, but not scuba divers. For divers, sharks are graceful, powerful creatures and more often viewed with a sense of awe rather than fear. Shark diving has become a major attraction for scuba divers around the world, and the shark diving capital is probably the Bahamas. In a move to secure a tourism gold mine that earns the Atlantic island chain about $80 million a year, the Bahamas have banned all shark fishing from their national waters.

Shark diving is a major fixture of scuba diving in the Bahamas. Most of these shark dives are centered on attracting large numbers of relatively harmless black tip and Caribbean reef sharks in close to a group of tourist divers by hand-feeding or the use of a “chumsicle” of frozen fish parts. No special dive gear, such as a chain-mail suit or a shark cage, is required. All a diver needs is an adventurous spirit. More dangerous and usually conducted in anti-shark cages are the dives at Tiger Beach, a sandy stretch of sea bottom so-named because it is routinely patrolled by tiger sharks.

The bloody image of the shark was created in large part by the 1976 blockbuster Jaws and kept alive by later movies and acts of media hysteria, such as the famed “Summer of the Shark” in 2001. In that instance, the news media (led by Time magazine) set off a nationwide frenzy during a summer when reported shark attacks actually declined. Negative media attention of this sort has made it very hard to defend sharks, and sharks are in desperate need of protection. The burgeoning demand for shark fin soup in China and among Chinese communities elsewhere in Asia has led to an estimated 73 million sharks being caught every year, often for the sole purpose of cutting off their dorsal fin. The rest of the shark is then dumped back into the sea. Overfishing for shark fin soup has pushed many shark species to the brink of endangered status.

The Bahamas took its first steps towards protecting sharks in 1993, and by banning all shark fishing the country joins Honduras, the Maldives and Pulau. Both Honduras and the Maldives host substantial dive industries, but neither enjoys the same stature as the Bahamas.

In enacting a ban on shark fishing, the Bahamas also raised the fine for violators from $3,000 to $5,000. That penalty may deter sport fishermen, but it is unlikely to stop commercial fishermen in pursuit of fat profits by feeding China’s hunger for shark fin soup.


© 2011, admin. All rights reserved.

Written by

Founder and Master Moderator of Divetalking.

Filed under: Report, Sharks · Tags:

Comments are closed.

error: Content is protected !!