Greenpeace encounters the Oleg Naydenov fishing illegally in 2012
Have you heard the one about Greenpeace controlling the
French Navy? No, me neither. But you might be forgiven for being confused by some
recent reports about the Russian trawler seized in West Africa.
Pirate fishing is a big problem. Sometimes it’s fishing over
quota (catching more than you should, or species that you shouldn’t), sometimes
it’s fishing in ways or places you shouldn’t. Overfishing may seem like a victimless
crime – but it isn’t, and the ultimate effect is bad news for our oceans, the
creatures that live in them, and the humans whose livelihoods or
future food source depends on them.
University of Aberdeen research is being used to justify Iceland's whaling programme.
always get a lot of breaks, it’s constantly twisted and misrepresented in the
media, and sometimes the best intentions end up being used in ways the
scientists themselves would never want them to be or condone. Who’d have thought,
for example, that UK universities could be used to defend commercial whaling?
Yet, that's exactlly what's happening right now.
The government has at long last made an announcement on the
first wave of marine
conservation zones (MCZs) in UK waters. This is long overdue, but frankly fails
to deliver. Today’s announcement to designate only 27 sites is a whopping 100
sites short of what the government’s
own consultation said was necessary. So what’s going on?
Shark finning: not big, not clever, not defensible
There’s nothing defensible about shark
finning. It’s the marine equivalent of the poachers who kill rhinos to hack
off their horns or kill elephants to hack off their tusks. It’s not dissimilar
to killing bears or tigers for spurious ‘traditional’ cures either. But it
happens out at sea, to animals which don’t have big brown eyes, and which aren’t
usually touted as cuddly toys or ‘adoptable’. They rarely win public polls on favourite
animals, yet they fill column inches every silly
scaremongering summer season in the tabloids.
Down with scare stories - how about some positive shark news for a change?
At the end of Shark Week, it’s time for some good news on
sharks. Despite all the earlier blogs this week, this is not me trying to
convince you sharks are huggable and loveable (though, they are, obviously), rather
a round-up of some good conservation news for the world’s
often-underappreciated shark species.
Sharks have a never-ending supply of teeth. They regenerate
replacement dentition on an inexhaustible toothy conveyor belt ... which
explains why you see so few shark dentists.
But sharks are not all about teeth, despite the bad press.
Filter feeders like the megamouth
shark, are mostly big (but harmless) mouths; the winghead
shark has a head half the length of its body, and; the thresher
sharks have a huge tai (ideal for stunning fish before eating them) that can be
the same length as its body.
Lots of people are frightened of sharks. That makes some
sense if you think all sharks are relentless man-eating teeth-machines, but in
reality the vast majority of them are much more scared of us, or they should
be. There are over 350 species of sharks around the world, but they don’t all get
to grab the headlines or star in feature film franchises. So in honour of Shark Week, and to show you
how daft it is to be irrationally fearful of some of these critters, here’s a quick
guide to the silliest-named sharks in our oceans.
Giving a hungry shark something else to chew on might be a good tactic.
It’s Shark Week. Despite us trying to tell you otherwise,
some of you still worry about getting chomped by a shark. So, to allay your
fears and help give you some practical ways to avoid being shark sushi, here is
the handy Greenpeace guide to avoiding shark attacks.