SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 11, April 2016 - Page 93

2. Sharks Are In Trouble

(Bahia Los Frailes in Cabo Pulmo Marine Park)

On February 27th 2016, the Mission Blue team was greeted by a dismal sight as we arrived at Bahia Los Frailes in Cabo Pulmo Marine Park: strewn across the beach were the hacked carcasses of approximately 20 sharks of several species. Sitting on the sand was a box full of shark fins, no doubt destined for Asian markets. How can shark slaughter happen in a marine park that is purportedly “no-take”? Carlos Ramon Godinez Reyes, Director of the Cabo Pulmo Marine Park (CONANP), was with us and questioned the fishermen. They produced a permit and asserted that these sharks had been fished outside of the prohibited boundaries of the park. But how could this be verified? It couldn’t. The annual operating budget of the Cabo Pulmo Marine Park is roughly $20,000, according to Mr. Godinez Reyes, making comprehensive enforcement all the more challenging. The issue of shark fishing is complex, on both a conservation and social level, but Dr. Earle said it best as she gazed at the dead sharks: “I’m just as worried about legal fishing as illegal fishing.”