Australian fishermen caught more than 300 tonnes of shark meat in NSW last year – five times the usual amount, according to confidential government papers obtained by The Daily Telegraph.
Rapidly rising demand across Asia for for the delicacy shark fin soup is believed to be behind the leap.
A confidential Department of Primary Industries document shows the total shark take in the NSW Ocean Trap and Line Fishery up from 60 tonnes. The DPI wants to set a lower yearly limit, but has failed to agree on a quota of 90 tonnes.
Although most fins from sharks in NSW are sold overseas, many Sydney restaurants have shark fin soup on the menu.
Star City’s Lotus Pond Chinese restaurant, Kam Fook Seafood Restaurant at Bondi Junction and one of the Gold Coast’s Conrad Jupiter restaurants, Zen, all advertise shark fin soup. Prices range from $126.80 to $181.60 per person.
Less than half a kilogram of dried shark fin can fetch more than $300, and a single fin from a basking shark – the second-largest fish species in the world – can sell for $62,000.
It is illegal in Australia to catch and kill sharks simply for their fins – their bodies must be used and can end up as fertiliser on farms or in fish and chip meals.
The Nature Conservation Council of NSW, which spearheads a campaign to develop a sustainable seafood industry, said more than half of the sharks caught in NSW were not identified.
This means threatened species such as hammerheads, makos, wobbegongs and school sharks are being caught.
“The consequences of such a severe increase in shark fishing will be devastating for all marine life if something is not done soon to strictly limit the amount caught,” NCC marine conservation officer Giselle Firme said.
Source: The Daily Telegraph