Monday, May 9, 2011

Bogus Shark News from the UAE

This came across our desk today.

Since when did a "net caught sharks" menace anyone?

Only in the UAE where the offending animal was summarily beaten to death with sticks.

Crew Fight off Shark

A Policeman has told how he beat a savage shark to death with a stick after it tried to attack him and his crew in UAE waters.

Mustafa Al Hammadi feared he had bitten off more than he could chew, when his hobby turned to horror, as he battled the 8ft-long, 3ft-wide, 300kg beast. “It tried to attack us. All of us had to struggle to control it. It was ferocious,” the 43-year-old Emirati told 7DAYS.

Al Hammadi’s big catch got trapped in his net as he fished with four other amateur anglers in darkness off the coast of Khor Fakkan.

“We had gone to put out the nets and at about 8pm we saw the net was suddenly being pulled down. I did not understand what was going on. When I pulled it up with the help of the others, we found this huge shark inside. I was shocked.”

He said the sharp-toothed creature was thrashing about and started lunging towards them.

The terrified crew grabbed a stick and beat it repeatedly on the head to control it.

Al Hammadi said the shark he fought off is known as Dheeba in Arabic.

“This kind of shark is dangerous. They jump out of the water and attack livestock on board boats. They can even attack humans,” he said.

Mustafa who is a policeman with UAE immigration department, said he had not seen Dheeba sharks in UAE waters before despite having fished the area for the last 12 years.

“They are probably entering UAE water through the Gulf of Oman by following the smaller fish,” he said.


A marine expert from Dubai Municipality said Dheeba are very rare in the UAE. “They used to be spotted during pearl diving days. They are not seen nowadays and are restricted to Gulf of Oman and Indian Ocean,” Mohammed Abdul Rahman Hassan, head of marine environment and wildlife section at Dubai Municipality said. He said they are noctur­nal and dangerous. “They are manhunters and are huge. I have not come across such species in the UAE in recent times,” he said.

Al Hamm­adi sold his big catch for Dhs100 to an Omani man. “No one eats it in the UAE. But people from Oman like them,” he said.

Boosting Tourism by Saving Sharks?

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A Malaysian state plans to ban shark fishing in a bid to bolster tourism and conserve a species hunted mainly for fins that are used to create a culinary delicacy, an official said Monday.

Masidi Manjun, tourism, culture and environment minister in eastern Sabah state on Borneo island, said local activists and foreign tourists have complained about cruel shark finning activities by local fishermen.

He said the state government is aiming to impose the ban starting next year. It would make Sabah the first state in Malaysia — one of the world's top shark-catching countries — to impose such a ban.

While there is no official data on the shark population, Masidi estimated only 20 percent of sharks spotted in the state 15 years ago are still in Sabah waters.

"There are only four coastal areas now where sharks can be spotted," he told The Associated Press. "If we don't do something about it, sharks may disappear from our waters completely. We will also lose tourism dollars."

Tens of millions of sharks are killed across the globe every year, mainly for their fins. Activists say finning is inhumane and a threat to the ocean ecosystem because fishermen slice the fins off the shark and toss the fish back into the water to die.

Shark fin soup, widely sold across Asia, can sell for more than $80 a bowl and is often served at weddings and banquets as a symbol of wealth.

Restaurant operators in Sabah oppose the ban, saying that sharks are also harvested for their flesh, skin and bones, which can be made into soup.

"We conserve our sharks here, but then they swim out to the South China Sea and get caught by Chinese or Vietnamese fishermen instead. What is the point?" said Sabah Restaurant Association chairman Lim Vun Chen.

Masidi said the state would not ban the importation and sale of shark fins for now but would educate consumers on the cruelty of shark finning. Sabah's government has already taken shark fin soup off the menu for official functions, he said.

Tourism is a major revenue earner for Sabah, which is famed for the rich biodiversity in its rain forests and dive sites teeming with coral reefs and marine life.

Traffic, a wildlife trade monitoring network, says up to 73 million sharks are killed annually. Malaysia ranks among the world's top 10 shark-catching countries, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.