A large Vietnamese ship containing two tons of drying shark fins or more was sunk by the Indonesian government. The ship had been illegally collecting a tremendous number of sharks to get their fins. Finning sharks is a disgusting, and very destructive practice that kills millions of sharks every year just to get their fins, which some very wrongly believe have medicinal or magical powers.
If a shark fin weighs a pound, about 4,000 sharks were killed illegally and their parts were stored in the Vietnamese ship. However, almost 50 hawksbill sea turtles were also found on board and pieces of a number of manta rays.
The area where the malevolent vessel was found was Raja Ampat, a place with abundant marine life, but one that also needs to be protected from wanton destruction resulting from the activity of brazen poachers.
In this particular case, most of the hideous cargo was probably captured and killed outside of Raja Ampat, but the crew had been observed trying to set a large gill net to catch more innocent creatures illegally within southern Raja Ampat. Two years ago, the local government passed a law to protect sharks and rays but enforcement for conservation laws sometimes is lacking. In this case, enforcement was decisive and effective. The poacher’s vessel was not reduced to ashes by burning; it was sunk in clear waters, which will probably attract divers who will learn what the vessel was doing illegally and keep the story alive.
Such underwater structures can provide places for smaller fish to hide and congregate, so the former raider of the seas might help restore some of the marine life it destroyed.
Most of us will never go to Raja Ampat, so here are some videos that show some of the natural beauty.
After seeing only two videos, it’s easy to see why Raja Ampat needs to protected – especially against poachers. These people don’t care at all about how much destruction they wreak.
Poaching boats like this one can travel at night and hide in out-of-the way places. They can strike when no one is looking and do a lot damage to natural habitats. It is great to see Indonesia is serious about enforcing marine protection laws.
Image Credit: Jonathan Chase, Wiki Commons