18 July 2005

Australian deck hand blows whistle on shark finning

A FORMER deck hand who blew the whistle on illegal shark finning by commercial fishermen in the Northern Territory says he has received death threats.

The Darwin man, who did not want to be identified and who has gone into hiding, said he received an anonymous phone call an hour after speaking to the Northern Territory News.

He said he was told by an unidentified caller: "Keep your mouth shut or you'll end up as croc bait."

Later that night, as he walked to catch a taxi in Darwin city, a man bumped into him and said: "Give it up, you have been told what will happen."

The disgruntled deckie spoke out after reading reports about Indonesians plundering northern Australia's waters for shark fins.

Further investigations by the Northern Territory News has revealed an organised shark finning network involving commercial fishermen and agents in Darwin who supply the black market in Asia.

"Don't worry about the Indonesians - it's happening right here in the Territory," the man said.

"It's a bit like the pot calling the kettle black to complain about the Indonesians."

Fins can be sold for as much as $600/kg on the black market. The man said he witnessed the sister boat's skipper cut the fins off up to a dozen sharks, and that he also saw two large tiger shark fins about 70cm in diameter in his boat's freezer.

"When I asked my skipper what he was going to do with them, he said he was taking them back to Darwin to sell on the black market," the man said.

"It wasn't just our boat that was shark finning illegally," he said.

"I knew of at least two others doing it in the bay we were fishing."

When the Northern Territory News contacted a commercial fisherman and put the allegations to him, he denied all knowledge of it happening on his boats.

"It's against our company policy to do that," he said, adding the only fins taken off his boat were legal by catch, which is documented and sold to a Queensland agent.

He said he sacked four workers earlier this year when they were caught trying to sell fins illegally in Nhulunbuy.

Source: townsvillebulletin.news.com.au


Post a Comment

<< Home