Caribbean conservationists at a meeting in Trinidad unhappy to find shark on the menu

Black tip reef shark. Image credit: Faris Algosaibi

At a recent regional seminar in Trinidad, conservationists were dismayed to be served what was apparently shark meat:

In an unfortunate turn of events, several conservationists were allegedly served bake and shark at a recent seminar hosted by the US Embassy on Caribbean disaster management and preparedness at a Port of Spain venue.

Tadzio Bervoets, Manager of the St Maarten Nature Foundation and Vice Chairman of the Board at the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance, shared photos showing what appeared to be shark dishes at the event, which was titled ‘Action for Resilient Communities: Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response’, and was held in conjunction with the US State Department of Defence along with other stakeholders within the region.

Bervoets said to LoopTT that the unfortunate incident did not impress the conservationists present, as environmental conservation played an important part of the symposium’s agenda.

Bervoets was presenting on Ecosystem Restoration and Environment Health for Coral Reef Preservation and Restoration.

He lamented the lack of focus on conserving marine life, especially sharks, which are apex predators and are critical for the survival of marine ecosystems.

“If we are to properly treat with disaster management and the resilience of our region, that conversation must include the conservation of our ecosystems. The ecosystem is critical in defending us from natural disasters, and not just hurricanes but other aspects such as wind defence.”

“One of the most important species are apex predators, which are sharks. They keep the system in balance and if you remove this cornerstone species that can have devastating effects.”

Bervoets said he asked why the shark was served and was told simply that it was a local delicacy.

“I asked why it was served and was told that it’s a traditional dish. I understand that tradition is important but at a certain time, eating sea turtles was also part of tradition, and that has since changed.”

He added that the consumption of shark can pose a health risk as it is high in mercury.

He is hoping that with the help of government policy changes, that the local demand for shark can be converted.

“I think it’s definitely in the interest of the Trinidad and Tobago to encourage a discussion about this.  They can begin by not serving shark and bake at official events.”

Read more in the full Loop TT article.


[Image credit: Faris Algosaibi]

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