There are more concerns now by conservationists around the Pacific after revelation last week that the “cruel practice of cutting off the fins of live shark,” and selling them to local Chinese markets has no law in Tonga to avoid it.
Kalauni ‘o Tonga Voyaging Society president Aunofo Havea says the society is horrified to discover shark finning is taking place in their local waters.
“To see shark fins displayed at a local supermarket in Neiafu is heartbreaking,” says Havea. “We regard ourselves as guardians for these vulnerable species and this practice and trade must stop".
Kalauni ‘o Tonga is a national voyaging society based in the Vava’u island group, where Neiafu harbour is located.
“I know we are not alone in our stance and we hope others will speak out to raise awareness and bring about change,” says Havea.
‘Eseta Schaaf, founder of the organization Keep Vava’u Green – based in Salt Lake City, Utah, who brought Tonga’s shark finning practice to light last week on NZKaniva Pacific says “I have been pleasantly surprised by the widespread attention my article on shark finning in Vava’u has received. From the US to Australia, New Zealand and Tonga, concerned readers and conservationists have shown their support. Sharks have thrived on Earth for 420 million years, but today they are on the verge of extinction from human-related activities like shark finning.
"The example at Neiafu Shopping Centre is the first outright and public display of shark finning in Vava’u, and sadly, reports show that the practice is more prevalent (on the mainland) Tongatapu. Even the Ministry of Fisheries website lists the amount of exported shark fins under its quaterly bulletins.
Oceana estimated Tonga exported close to 8,000 kg of shark fins in 2008 to Hong Kong alone – the biggest shark fin market".
Schaaf told Kaniva, “It is awesome to see the ripple effect this has had on raising awareness both in and outside of Tonga. I hope we keep talking about it – tell your friends and family about it, stay updated by visiting: http://oceana.org and finally, let the Tongan Government know we are aware and we care”.