Thursday, March 21, 2019
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
BAHAMAS National Trust executive director Eric Carey wants authorities to investigate a “sickening” shark killing captured on film.
In a video circulated on Facebook yesterday, two men are seen shooting a shark in the head with their shotgun. It is not clear where the video was filmed or how the shark was captured, but ropes can be seen tied around the shark’s tail. Someone can be heard in the video laughing after the shark is killed and viewers are given a close-up shot of the dead animal. In a separate video, the dissected remains of the shark are seen on shore.
Mr Carey said yesterday: “This was a criminal act because sharks are protected so we are going to encourage the Department of Marine Resources to carry out an investigation. There are people identified on the video and we’re hoping the police and the Department of Marine Resources will look into that. People need to be prosecuted for these illegal acts.”
He added: “Sharks have two main values to us, one is the ecosystem value because they are critically important for maintaining ecosystem health as top predators so it’s important that we have a healthy shark population if we’re going to have an overall healthy fisheries population. Just as important is the value they bring to tourism. Shark tourism is worth $115m a year. We understand the fear that Bahamians have of sharks because we grew up with a fear of sharks, but a lot of Bahamians are earning a lot of money off of shark tourism and we know we need to do a bit more education so people understand it doesn’t make sense to kill an animal like that. This large tiger shark is worth tens of thousand over its lifetime when you consider its touristic value so it’s unfortunate that something like that is killed because of an irrational fear that people have when you balance it against what the economic potential of an animal like that so we’ve very disappointed and distressed at the senseless killing of such a majestic animal.”
Health Minister Dr Duane Sands was among many who expressed outrage at the shark killing on social media. “Why, why, why?” he wrote on Facebook as he shared the video. “Why is it necessary to kill this magnificent creature? Surely this sends the wrong message to our children and to the world.”
Some Bahamians have gotten in trouble before for filming their attacks on protected species. In March 2018, three people were arrested after their killing of a sea turtle was captured on camera. The turtle was struck at least 13 times and was left bleeding and in pain.
The BNT called on authorities to investigate that incident. A magistrate conditionally discharged the suspects, however, ordering them to perform 500 hours of community service and to attend a voluntary intervention programme at the Magistrate’s Court. Activists complained that the sentence was too lenient. According to law, the penalty for killing sharks can be $5,000.