The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has put out a report from Madagascar saying along the coasts, there has been a dramatic decrease in all marine life due to excessive demand of shark fin and sea cucumbers from China.
According to the report, sea cucumbers have disappeared, octopus populations have been severely impacted, many fish species have simply disappeared, and shark populations have been severely effected as natives slaughter every shark they can find to feed the lucrative shark fin market.
The coral reef system along Madagascar’s southwestern coast is one of the largest in the world and every month these reefs become more barren. Local fishermen say they are so poor that they cannot stop fishing, yet they will be forced to stop once there is nothing left.
The decline of the predator could unbalance the entire marine food chain. Studies in the Caribbean have shown that too few sharks mean other carnivorous species increase and eat too many other useful fish, which can endanger the entire reef ecosystem.
Madagascar has a long way to go in protecting its marine resources. “These fishermen are poor and the attraction of fishing for sharks and sea cucumbers is huge,” said Man Wai Rabenevanana, director of the Institute of Marine Science in Toliara. “If we truly want to protect our resources we must address the market. We must do more to discourage the Chinese from eating shark fin soup; perhaps we can even find an alternative.”
Demand for shark fin in China, where the meat is considered a delicacy, and for sea cucumbers, which are believed to be an aphrodisiac, have become major sources of income in Madagascar, which exports up to 20 tons of shark fins every year.
Alibaba Seafoods, the company owned by Yahoo is one of the leading corporations responsible for diminishing shark populations.
“It’s a strange world, where an internet company like Yahoo is responsible for the destruction of the world’s shark populations,” said Captain Paul Watson.