|Pier 39 Fish Auction Floor|
|Some big skipjack tuna|
Another reason I wanted to visit the fish auction was to see if there were any sharks. I'm a shark conservationist, can you blame me? And I found what I was looking for. One shark. And from the looks of those claspers, I'd say this mako shark was a boy.
|Looks at the size of those claspers!|
For nearly four years I've been working with US states and territories to ban the sale and trade of shark fin. Each of the 11 state and territorial laws that have passed are unique and have their own fines and exemptions. The laws in CNMI and Guam exempt sharks killed for cultural reasons. Hawaii's fines are as high as $5,000, while another state's can be as low as $100. Several states exempt small sharks such as dogfish, while one state exempts all fishermen that are licensed to fish for sharks.
I suspect that the Obama Administration opposition to the federal law originated in Hawaii, which has the highest fines and no exemptions. Hawaii has interpreted the law so that fishermen can continue to land makos and threshers for their meat, but disallows the sale of their fins. I wanted to see for myself how many sharks were being landed. And I found one.
I had a chat with one of the guys working at the fish market, and he said that the day we visited was a particularly slow day and that usually the boats will land a handful of sharks, not just one. He also said that most of the sharks landed in Hawaii were rendered down to fish balls that are used in soup.