28 December 2017

Lab Chat

The oceans across the world are precious to us. They provide a vast array of marine species, as well as a vital food source – and income source for countless coastal areas. Oceans can even provide a suitable setting for renewable energy generation, with offshore wind farm technology constantly improving, and the water feeding in from oceans acts for some as an essential water source.

It’s clearly important to look after the oceans for a wide range of reasons. That’s where Sea Shepherd comes in. Read on to see what it is and how it will help the water around the Gulf states.

Protecting the world’s waters

As the name suggests, Sea Shepherd is an organisation set up to protect marine wildlife. Their mission is to end habitat destruction across the world’s oceans to protect both the species and ecosystems. Heard of them before? Many people know Sea Shepherd for their work pursuing Japanese whalers. Since 2005, they set out to obstruct the whalers each year, as they attempted to hunt the large mammals.

Whales are hunted and caught in Japanese waters for their meat, which is a common feature in the Japanese diet. Japan also suggests the captured whales are needed for scientific research to help manage whale numbers. Despite Japan’s insistence that their whaling is sustainable, opposing forces, like Sea Shepherd, insist it is simply commercial whaling in disguise. Meanwhile, whale populations have continued to decline.

Arriving in Gulf waters

So, where is Sea Shepherd headed now? It’s recently arrived in the UAE, after receiving approval in September 2017. Gulf waters have been put in jeopardy by development in the region, as well as overfishing. And the main reason for the arrival of the group’s fleet of ships is shark finning.

Shark fins are in high demand in the Far East, where they are used in shark fin soup – a Chinese and Vietnamese delicacy. To get these fins, however, fishermen often remove the sharks’ fins and discard the rest of the shark while out at sea. This happens to over 70 million sharks every year, according to studies. It leaves sharks destined for death as they can no longer move properly to filter oxygen from water or defend themselves.

In response to this crisis, the UAE banned shark finning in 2011. Now, fins can only be harvested on land from captured whole sharks. However, there is still the possibility of illegal shark finning under the radar. It’s hoped Sea Shepherd’s arrival will boost conservation, as well as tackling other issues like ocean pollution.

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