The Dutch government is preparing legislation to forbid the finning of sharks and the trading of this animal in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Carols Schouten announced on Monday in response to written questions from Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Frank Wassenberg of the Party for Animals PvdD.
Wassenberg sent a series of questions to Schouten and to State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops on October 24 following the release of a gruesome video on social media of the live finning of a shark in Curaçao that shocked many people throughout the Kingdom.
Schouten explained that while it was up to the country Curaçao to take measures to protect the shark population in its surrounding waters, she noted that for the Dutch public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, which resort under her responsibility, the fisheries legislation was being adapted to forbid the trading and the finning of sharks in the Caribbean Netherlands.
A declaration of intention has been signed with the Caribbean Netherlands islands to establish a shark reservation. Schouten stated that education of and communication with the local population, the fishermen and other stakeholders was an important aspect in this trajectory.
She added that research had been carried out to study the possibilities of reducing the mortality and side-catch of sharks. She is working on a shark and stingray strategy for the Caribbean Netherlands and on an international level to better protect these animals that are so important for the health of the seas and the coral reefs. The shark and stingray strategy will be ready in the first quarter of next year. Schouten shared the vision of Tadzio Bervoets of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DNA) Shark Committee that “there was a lot of work to be done in legislation and enforcement, but especially in education”. She stated that education and communication would be points of attention in the shark and stingray strategy.
As for the finning incident in Curaçao, she explained that the prohibiting of de-finning is secured in European legislation, but that it hasn’t been taken over by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas ICCAT and that as such this legislation doesn’t apply to non-European ICCAT members, including Curaçao. Asked by Member of Parliament (MP) Wassenberg whether she was willing to seek clarity from Curaçao authorities on the finning incident and to urge the prosecution of the men in the video, Schouten stated that this was not up to her, but to the Curaçao government as Curaçao is an autonomous country, in the Kingdom.
“However, I did understand that the video caused a lot of commotion in Curaçao. The Curaçao government has indicated that it will proceed on the short term to execute its Ocean Policy Plan which includes measures to better protect maritime life,” Schouten stated.
She confirmed MP Wassenberg’s information that Curaçao as yet had to establish a shark reservation, as was pledged during a shark protection meeting in St. Maarten in 2016.
The Daily Herald.