Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hammerhead shark meat sold causes concern

Shark meat being sold raises questions! Caymen

Following the recent capture and sale at a local fish market of a scalloped hammerhead shark by fishermen, the Department of Environment has received several inquiries from concerned members of the public regarding the protection and status of sharks in Cayman waters.

Despite the fact that globally shark populations are severely threatened with overfishing, there are currently no laws prohibiting the capture or sale of any sharks in the Cayman Islands.

Although several species of sharks are occasionally caught in Cayman they are not considered to be a target species, and fishermen do often take great care to avoid hooking these animals.

Sharks that are accidentally caught are often sold for meat so as not to waste the animal; it is rare that a shark is killed just for the sake of it. Buyers of shark meat should however be aware of the potential health risk of eating shark. Shark meat can contain high levels of trace metals such as mercury which if ingested frequently can become toxic to humans. Furthermore sharks build up a concentration of ammonia in their flesh.

There is legislation prohibiting the baiting or chumming of water with the intent of attracting sharks but this is primarily aimed at shark feeding activities. Sharks are of course protected within local Marine Parks and the Environmental Zones but as most species range over much larger areas than the boundaries of the parks, marine protected areas offer little protection for sharks generally.

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