A disturbing video of an enormous Great hammerhead shark (Sphyma mokarran) being hauled out of a truck in a Dubai fish market reveals once again the failure of authorities to monitor shark fishing in the United Arab Emirates. In the UAE, it is officially illegal to kill sharks with the sole purpose of harvesting their fins, but Dubai has a record of supplying shark fins to Hong Kong, where they are highly coveted as the main ingredient in shark fin soup. They are never captured for their meat, which the International Union of Conservation (IUCN) claims is considered unpalatable. Hit the jump to see the video.
This video was uploaded onto the Shark Year website by Alexmoz76, who we were unable to reach for comment.
But Jonathan Ali, Managing Director of Wild Animal Productions and a renowned shark activist based in the UAE, posted the video on his Facebook page with strong exclamations of disapproval.
“Another massive great Hammerhead in Dubai fish market brought in from Oman!” he wrote. “They can barely get it out of the truck!! This is a magnificent specimen and reproductively in its prime! What a sad waste!”
Great hammerhead sharks are particularly vulnerable since they only reach sexual maturity when they are five years old, according to a 2011 story published in The National. And then they only reproduce once every two years.
Last year we posted a ghastly image of a female hammerhead that was killed along with a belly full of pups, a devastating loss to the species that prompted a massive outcry.
Shark conservation in the UAE is hampered in great measure because of gaps in crucial data, which Rima Jabado from Lebanon – a doctoral student at UAE University – is striving daily to fill. In an interview with Arwa, Rima describes the challenges associated with shark conservation and overfishing.
She explains that shark finning is a major threat to this apex species, but it is not the only one. Habitat degradation and by-catch in places where the hammerhead is not specifically targeted are other key factors contributing to diminishing populations.
Although Article 5 of the UAE’s Ministry of Environment and Water’s Decree No. 216 makes it clear that “capture of sharks for fins is prohibited,” the law in Dubai is poorly enforced. Notice that the men handling the enormous shark were completely unphased by the cameraman, which probably means that they have little fear of retribution.
Great hammerheads are listed as globally endangered on the IUCN red list but as long as their fins remain so profitable, it will be very difficult to slow their journey towards extinction.
More on Shark Fishing and Finning in the UAE: