Artisanal Shark Trade in the Republic of the Congo – Traffic

Congo fishermen turn to sharks, but massive over capacity of fishing fleets puts local food security, livelihoods and shark populations at risk

 

Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, 17th August 2020—Congolese artisanal fishers are increasingly turning to shark fishing because of increased scarcity of other stocks overfished by industrial fisheries: urgent legislative and management improvements are needed to prevent a collapse of shark fishing and protect local livelihoods finds a new TRAFFIC report.

 

Artisanal shark fishing by migrant fishers using “Popo” boats (large motorised boats) has been an important fishery in the coastal port of Pointe-Noire since the early 1980s, driven by extensive demand from East and Southeast Asia for fins.

 

It is also driven by local demand for processed shark meat. Of the 1,868,701 kg of shark catch reported in 2017, 95% (1,766,589 kg) was by artisanal fisheries, representing 32% of the total artisanal fish catch. The meat is processed and sold in the local markets for domestic consumption. .

 

    Sharks have become an essential source of sustenance and income for local people whose livelihoods and well-being are under extreme threat if shark populations collapse

“Overcapacity and illegal fishing also threaten the very survival of sharks like the Scalloped Hammerhead, with juveniles regularly landed in Pointe-Noire while at a global level the IUCN Red List assesses it to be Critically Endangered, at extreme risk of extinction,” said Momballa.

 

Many of the fins exported are from shark species listed in the appendices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), but the new study finds no evidence of exports conforming to CITES regulations—there are no records of fin exports in the national fisheries or customs data, even though Hong Kong recorded total imports of 131,594 kg of dried shark fins from the Congo between 2005 and 2019.

 

Similarly, official statistics lack data on illegal fishing and fish stocks, thereby being inadequate to monitor against overcapacity, overfishing, and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and the threat of overexploitation—with its dire effects on fish resources and the local economy.

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