Illegal shark fishing - Yaniv Levy - 12022012
NET GAINS: Illegal shark fishing off the coast of Ashkelon last year. Photo by Yaniv Levy
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In the past three weeks, Israel Nature and Parks Authority personnel have netted three men who illegally caught sharks off Israel’s shores. In most cases the shark meat is sold to markets in the Gaza Strip, and in some cases shark fins have been found in Tel Aviv markets, where they are sold for the manufacturing of ‘alternative’ medicines.

Shark fishing is illegal in Israel since 42 percent of the 70 shark species in the Mediterranean Sea are in danger of extinction.

Ohn Valency, the authority’s director of supervision in the central district, told Haaretz that in recent months many sharks approach Israel’s shores, probably attracted to the warm water currents near electricity power stations in Hadera and Ashkelon.

“According to one theory,” Valency said, “the warm water attracts fish that sharks can prey on, and for that reason they come very close to the shore.” Most of the sharks approaching the shores are up to three meters long and aren’t considered dangerous to humans.

In the past few weeks, the authority’s supervisors have apprehended fishermen from Jaljulya and Pardes Hannah who caught gray sharks near the Hadera power station.

Valency insists that the fishermen knew that shark fishing was illegal, after the authority published leaflets in Hebrew and Arabic.

Valency added that two years ago a fisherman was caught with 26 sharks. “Sometimes sharks are caught by accident in nets, and if they inform us about it − we don’t pursue legal action. In that specific case,” he recalls, “the fishermen couldn’t resist temptation and tried to sell the meat. Naturally we brought them to trial.”

Valency says that the authority doesn’t have enough supervisors to stop shark fishing. In recent weeks various organizations have accused European Mediterranean countries of failing to act forcefully to stop shark fishing.

Read this article in Hebrew