THA condemns ‘indiscriminate killing of sharks’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A bull shark. – Image courtesy National Wildlife Federation

THE THA Division of Food Security, Natural Resources, the Environment and Sustainable Development has strongly condemned the indiscriminate killing of sharks in response to the attack on British tourist Peter Smith by a bull shark at Turtle Beach on April 26.

This follows the release of a video on social media on May 1, which showed fishermen cutting up five bull sharks on the Buccoo jetty, Tobago.

In a statement on May 1, the division said sharks play a vital role in maintaining the delicate balance of our marine ecosystems.

“As apex predators they help regulate the populations of other species, ensure the health of reef fish populations and contribute to the overall resilience of our coastal environments,” it said.

The division said while it understands the concerns and fears arising from the recent incident, “reacting to this isolated event by targeting and killing sharks indiscriminately is not only ineffective in preventing future incidents but also harmful to our marine biodiversity.”

It said Trinidad and Tobago is committed to the conservation and protection of its marine resources, including sharks, through various national laws and international conventions.

The Fisheries Act, Environmental Management Act and Conservation of Wildlife Act, all provide a framework for managing and safeguarding our marine wildlife, the division said.

Additionally, the division said as a member of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas and a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, Trinidad and Tobago has a responsibility to adhere to international standards for shark conservation.

“We strongly urge the public to refrain from engaging in any unauthorised hunting, capturing or killing of sharks. Instead we encourage the public to follow shark safety guidelines such as avoiding areas where sharks are known to congregate, staying calm if encountering a shark and reporting any shark sightings to local authorities.

“By working and respecting our wildlife, we can ensure the safety of both humans and sharks while preserving the rich biodiversity of our coastal waters.”

On April 26 the Office of the Chief Secretary put out a $10,000 bounty for the capture of the shark responsible for the attack on Smith, but hours later lifted it.

Ten beaches on the island remain closed as a precautionary measure.