If we want to preserve the ocean, and prevent the loss of the food, livelihood, oxygen, and life that all depends upon the ocean, the machismo attitude associated with sport fishing needs to go the way of the dinosaur.
Recently in California a record shortfin Mako was fished, killed, and hung up like a prize trophy. Instead of eliciting the outdated response of excitement and joy at the death of such a huge shark, the California diving and ocean community responded with sharp criticism and disgust.
The fishermen, Texans filming a reality show called “The Professionals”, caught the record sized shark in Orange County, California. They portrayed the shark as a “killing machine” and a terror of the ocean, noting that if at any point during the hours it took to reel the shark in, they had fallen in the water, they would have been dead meat for sure.
This is a false claim for many reasons. Shortfin Makos, and sharks in general, are not known to target humans. What’s more is that there is evidence that crew on board the boat had guns pointed at the fish to kill it, in case of any mis-step that might have put the fisherman in danger (which is pretty ironic, considering they are the ones who went out into the sea and hunted down this shark, and NOT the other way around, who really put who in danger?).
Once brought in, the shark was found to be record huge. But instead of a catch and release, the fishermen brought the shark in for “science”. They also made the claim of donating the meat to a homeless shelter, who I find are SO OFTEN dangerously low on shark meat. It seems to me the actual reason the shark was killed and not released was so that proud fishermen could stand next to the body and take a series of pictures next to their “killing machine” and to break a pretty pointless world record. (Again, that term just leaves a bad taste in my mouth, a person posing next to a “killing machine” that they have just killed, where is the logic??)
Although the shortfin mako is not considered endangered per se (although it can be argued that all sharks are in some form endangered), many conservationists were sad to see it killed just for the sake of seeing a glorious and breathtakingly large animal killed for sport and nothing else. In California, law states that you can take 2 makos per day, so the fishermen are not guilty of anything illegal, just distasteful.
“Bowman said it’s not difficult at all to chum mako sharks to the boat this time of year. He said the females – and most makos over 500 pounds are female — are full of pups right now and weigh the heaviest of the year. Southern California serves as a nursery for young makos. The older females go to the same areas off Southern California each year to give birth. Makos can give birth to eight to 10 and as many as 18 pups once every 18 months or so.”( Cited from “Controversy circles around Shark catch,” Ed Zieralski)
No, this wasn’t a shark killed for food, for science, or to save a life. It was a shark killed for entertainment purposes, for pride, and for bragging rights. The odds weighed in the favor of the fisherman all along, and celebrating the kill of a pregnant, threatened species seems extremely counter productive.
We have certainly passed a tipping point, as mentioned in my last post. There is no longer room for error on the side of cockiness and haughtiness. Humans have to learn to respect other creatures, if not just for the sake of those creatures’ right to existence, then for the selfish reason of our own petty existence. Killing the apex predators of the ocean will have monumentally negative effects on the entire food chain, of which we just so happen to take part in.
eat some humble pie, and realize we’re all in this life together,