Friday, January 23, 2009

Save the World, please...???

So as I'm going through some of the mail we received today, I come across this little number:

Question: is the Canadian government doing anything to stop the slaughter of Sharks? (1)

As you know shark populations are quickly being reduced to practically nil around the world - for delicacies like shark fin soup.

Is the government banning the import of shark products? (2) and/Or Fining individuals who sell shark products (like fin soup)?" (3)

The originator of this missive had a distinctly Italian family name, but a '' address, so they could have been writing us from literally anywhere in the world. In any event, this shows a clear lack of understanding about what Fisheries and Oceans Canada is, as a Canadian government entity.

To begin, the mandate of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is to develop and implement policies and programs in support of Canada's economic, ecological and scientific interests in OUR oceans and inland waters.

How does it do this?

Fisheries and Oceans Canada develops and implements its programs and policies through the following branches and sectors:

- Canadian Coast Guard (ensures the safety and protection of the environment in Canadian navigable waters and provides marine search and rescue services)

- Fisheries and Aquaculture Management (conserves and protects Canada's fishery resources and assures the sustainable use of fishery and aquaculture resources in collaboration with stakeholders)

- Human Resources and Corporate Services (develops, coordinates and advises on human resource management programs and policies, and provides administrative services, coordinates departmental policies and develops regulations)

- Oceans and Habitat Sector (assures the sustainable development and the conservation of Canada's oceans and marine and freshwater habitats)

- Policy Sector (provides social and economic analyses, statistical services and policy advice)

- Science Sector (conducts scientific research to assist in the development of policies, regulations and laws regarding oceans and aquatic life)

Operations are carried out through six regional offices and the national headquarters in Ottawa.

A plethora of research institutes across Canada carry out scientific research related to fisheries and oceans.

Okay, there is also the International Affairs Directorate, which develops policies and coordinates relations and negotiations related to international fisheries management.

The Directorate also carries out the following activities:

- provides Canada with benefits related to the transboundary and internationally managed fish stocks industry

- administers international treaties and agreements, such as the Pacific Salmon Treaty

- negotiates with international fisheries organizations, such as the Northwest Atylantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas

- participates in international forums on the conservation and protection of fish, including wild Pacific and Atlantic salmon; and

- oversees the resolution of disputes related to fisheries management and maritime boundaries.

So... To respond to this individual in point form (as I've correspondingly numbered each of his questions...):

(1): If anything, through the International Affairs Directorate, DFO may be putting forth Canada's concerns with regards to the world's dwindling shark populations. Realistically, Canada has control only over the resources which are to be found inside Canada's EEZ.

(2): The legality of importing shark products into Canada does NOT fall within the jurisdiction of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, unless they fall within the criteria for species protected under CITES.
(Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora - This is an international agreement).

Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Marine Protected Areas program establishes marine protected areas to conserve and protect unique habitats and endangered or threatened marine species in CANADIAN waters.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Aquatic Species at Risk program develops recovery plans for the protection of CANADIAN aquatic species at risk, promotes public awareness of related issues and coordinates the enforcement of prohibitions and regulations under the SARA (Species At Risk Act).

Importation of shark products as it stands, is under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) - Fish and Seafood Products Inspection program.

(3): The fining of individuals who sell certain restaurant products in Canada, again does not fall within the jurisdiction of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

Small wonder we have so many mental midgets sending us e-mails overflowing with righteous indignation of how we have yet again failed to save the world from itself... you'd think by now they would be tired of barking up the wrong tree... but then again, to do that they'd have to have a clue...

The Canadian produced movie "Sharkwater", filmed in 2006 and released in late March of 2007, is slowly gaining exposure in cinemas throughout the world. It is introducing the world population, one country at a time, to the realities facing this magnificent marine species. One which, need it be said, is absolutely vital to the well being of the world's oceans and their ecosystems. I have yet to view this movie but I felt it would be relevant when it first began making the rounds.

This movie is also responsible for the "shark slaughter" e-mails we receive. People view the movie, discover what is happening in the world's oceans and then write us as though this was a newly discovered secret. Truly, there are none so wise as the newly-educated... Just because you've been living in the dark for all these years, doesn't mean that we all have, sonny boy. It is admirable and heartening though, to see more and more people becoming concerned about the oceans and their inhabitants. They must continue educating themselves however, to ensure that they understand whom to direct their concerns to, so that they reach the right ears.

Here are some ideas:

- Find out which countries are sanctioning this type of unregulated and indiscriminate fishing.

- Call the 1 800 O Canada line (1-800-622-6232, 8am - 8m), to obtain the points of contact for their diplomatic representatives here in Canada.

- Make your views known to their diplomatic representatives.

- Get as many other people involved as you can and have them do the same. Let's see how truly dedicated and passionate you are about saving the world's shark populations.

- DON'T bother contacting the UN or any other "world bodies". If you've learned anything over the last fifteen years or so, it should be that these organizations are absolutely facking useless.

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