Leisure Boating investigates the illegal fishing and killing of sharks and Manta Ray in Mozambique.
Chinese syndicate is believed to be operating out of Inhambane, Mozambique, exporting shark fins to China for the highly popular dish of shark fin soup as well as Manta Ray parts for another supposed delicacy of a ‘Manta wing tip’ dish.
Although fishing for white sharks is a criminal offence, fishermen are purposefully targeting these animals and shark numbers are thinning rapidly – especially off the coast of Mozambique. It is alleged that a Chinese group pay local fishermen in Inhambane to target sharks and Manta Rays, and the fishermen find it hard to turn down the substantial additional income.
An Inhambane fisherman interviewed by British publication The Guardian admitted that he sells his catch to the Chinese, estimating that a kilogram’s worth of shark fin will fetch as much as 5 000 Meticals (around R1 530). “We take them to town where there is a place for Chinese buyers. It’s good money,” the fisherman told the newspaper. Fishing has been the main form of livelihood in Inhambane for many generations. Growing up in Inhambane, one’s career options are mostly limited to fishing and perhaps catering for tourists, and the opportunities for additional income are scarce. Chinese syndicates reportedly supply improved equipment such as gill nets and local fishermen jump at the chance to earn good money.
Another interviewee, 19, told The Guardian: “We do it because we don’t have a good job. We know it’s not good and the Chinese are killing things that are not allowed to be killed, but we do it to survive and get some money. We don’t want to have to steal from other people. If we were given an alternative, we would stop.” Mozambique attracts much tourism annually, particularly because of the spectacular reefs off its coast – as it is widely known for its wonderful diversity of marine life, and divers from all over the world flock to the country yearly to experience the underwater grandeur that Mozambique has to offer. If I may recount from personal experience, Inhambane and especially Barra are some of the most stunning scuba diving locations that I’ve had the privilege to visit. Apart from the great visibility, brilliant reefs, and abundance of marine life, these parts are famous for hosting a wealth of the beautiful underwater ‘flyers’ known as Manta Rays as well as the majestic whale shark and other members of the shark family…