Marine Conservation News: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

There has been a lot of news in the realm of marine conservation over the past couple of weeks – some good, some bad, and some downright ugly! Here are some of the more interesting:

The Good:

Longlining Outlawed in Panama – Terry Andrews of famed Tropic Star Lodge in Pinas Bay, Panama is reporting that Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli has signed Executive Decree 486, which immediately prohibits all forms of commercial and industrial longlining in all of Panama’s jurisdictional waters! Fishing boats of 6 tons are less will still be allowed to longline, but only with a strict license and only in designated areas. For more information about Tropic Star Lodge and big game fishing in Panama, read Guy’s latest book, Panama Paradise: A Tribute to Tropic Star Lodge.

PHOTO ALBUM: Click here to see Panama’s marlin in action during the 10th Annual Tropic Star Lodge Tournament

Shark Conservation Act Signed into Law – this is great news that seems to have received very little coverage. On January 4th, President Obama officially signed the SCA into law. The law closes a loophole which allowed U.S. flagged vessels to buy shark fins on the open sea for the purpose of reselling them in U.S. markets for a rich profit (the act of shark finning has been outlawed in U.S. waters since 2000). The SCA also allows for sanctions to be out on other nations whose own shark fishing regulations are not consistent with those of the U.S.

The Bad:

Tuna Fetches Record Price – A 754-pound pacific bluefin tuna caught off the northern coast of Japan sold for a record price of almost $396,000 (U.S.) in a Tokyo seafood market in early January. That works out to around $526 per pound! This is very bad news for a species whose stocks are already severely depleted by commercial fishermen who are trying to meet the overwhelming demand worldwide for sushi. With prices like this, will we see more fishing fleets going after pacific and atlantic bluefins? Let’s hope not…

The Ugly:

Gordon Ramsay Attacked by Gang? – Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay claims to have been doused in gasoline and held at gunpoint during two different incidents in Costa Rica while trying to document Taiwanese gangs that engage in the illegal shark fin trade. Ramsay said he witnessed thousands of fins drying out at gang hideouts, and later saw a bag of fins tied to the keel of one of the gang’s fishing boats.

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