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Iran Caught In Persian Gulf's Record Rise In Illegal Shark Hunting

The Persian Gulf has become lucrative fishing territory. Sharks, a threatened species, are being hunted to be used in cooking and medicines. Local fishermen are being arrested, but the operation involves people much higher up the food chain.

A hook for shark fishing.

Illegal shark fishing poses a threat to this already endangered species.

Kayhan London

LONDON — Iranians were informed in mid-May of another piece of endemic lawlessness in their country: illegal fishing of sharks in the Persian Gulf, with the catch destined for unspecified destinations and part of an ever bigger black market .

Authorities found a haul of 8,000 dead shark and shark fins in the port of Chabahar in south-east Iran, and 2,500 shark fins on the island of Kish, in the south-west of the country, in less than a week earlier in May. The chief environmental officer of the Sistan-and-Baluchestan province described the consignments, found in cold storage facilities, as the biggest so far.


Six fishermen were reported as arrested in Kish for the shark fins, and an unspecified number of suspects were separately identified in Chabahar, according to local media.

Sharks at the fish market in Bandar Abbas, Iran.

Fishermen sell sharks from the Persian Gulf at the fish market in Bandar Abbas, Iran.

OXLAEY.com

Worldwide firms

But with such figures, it seems unlikely the arrests of a dozen or so people will end illegal fishing in the Persian Gulf when it is a big business worldwide. The daily Payam-e ma recently cited a former marine environments officer at the state fishing organization, Hamidreza Bargahi, as qualifying shark fishing as "a huge trade, with the participation of big, global firms and organizations. But all we hear is about the arrests of a few fishermen."

We can add another threat, shark fishing for tourism.

The sharks are used for purposes that go beyond making soup, including medicine, or in the production of pet foods or even snacks. Shark fishing in the past 50 years is said to have reduced shark numbers worldwide by 70%. Unofficial reports put the retail price of a kilogram of shark fin in Persian Gulf coastal states at U.S. $400, which somewhat explains the interest.

Big fish, big fines

The IUCN, an alliance of conservation groups, has categorized several shark species as threatened or gravely threatened with extinction, because of overfishing. Today, we can add another threat, shark fishing for tourism. While big fish caught this way are usually released back into the water, the ecological effects of the practice remain uncertain.

Shark fishing is banned in Iran, and the practice is liable to big fines. It is thus thought to be done at night. The main regional countries identified with the trade are India, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. In Iran's case, it is not clear if fished sharks are destined for those countries, and just how much shark fishing is even discovered or reported.

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Russia

What Is Putin’s Endgame In Odessa?

The timing and location of Russia's latest attacks shows that the southern Ukrainian city is more important than ever to the Russian leader, for symbolic and strategic reasons.

Smoke rises after one of the recent Russian attacks in Odessa.

Nina Liashonok/Ukrinform via ZUMA
Cameron Manley

-Analysis-

When Moscow and Kyiv signed their UN-brokered "Black Sea initiative" deal Friday in Istanbul, Ukraine’s southern ports were set to reopen and resume the regular flow of wheat and maize exports.

But within hours the most important of those Ukrainian ports came under fire from a Russian missile attack. Moscow, after first denying responsibility, later claimed to having launched the strike at military targets and that no grain storage facilities had been hit.

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"The attack is connected exclusively with military infrastructure. This is in no way related to the infrastructure that is used to fulfill the agreements and export of grain," Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskovtold state-run media site Ria Novosti.

And yet, it is impossible to deny that the timing — and location — was anything but intentional.

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