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Singapore supermarket chain to stop selling shark fin
by Staff Writers
Singapore (AFP) Jan 6, 2012

Dolphins showing up on world dinner plates
New York (UPI) Jan 5, 2012 - U.S. and Canadian conservationists say a survey found marine mammals like whales, dolphins and manatees are increasingly on the menu in poor countries.

Declines in coastal fish catches have resulted in people in many developing countries seeking other sources of protein and sea mammals are increasingly being tapped as food sources, NewScientist.com reported Friday.

Though the consumption of marine mammals is condemned in much of the world, and large-scale whaling has decreased in the last four decades, smaller cetaceans like dolphins are making up for dwindling protein sources in coastal areas of west Africa, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, India, the Philippines and Burma, the researchers said.

"This is essentially a bushmeat problem," said Martin Robards of the Wildlife Conservation Society in Alaska, who worked with Randall Reeves of the Okapi Wildlife Associates in Quebec, Canada, to create the first comprehensive survey of the kinds and amounts of marine mammals consumed each year.

From 1970 to 2009 humans ate at least 92 species of cetaceans, they said.

"Traditionally, you think of Japan or natives in the Arctic as big consumers, and they are," Robards said, "but that's not the whole story."

Singapore's largest supermarket chain will stop selling shark fin products from April after an inflammatory comment by one of its suppliers triggered calls for a boycott from activists and the public.

NTUC FairPrice -- a cooperative run by the city-state's national trades union -- made the announcement Thursday after receiving hundreds of complaints.

The uproar was sparked by one of the chain's shark fin suppliers which made the comment "Screw the divers!" in an online promotional message for a new product to be launched at FairPrice outlets during the upcoming Lunar New Year.

The comment, apparently directed at divers campaigning against the shark fin trade, went viral on Facebook and microblogging site Twitter.

Many of the reactions advocated a boycott of the supplier and FairPrice.

In a statement, FairPrice chief executive Seah Kian Peng said the chain was ceasing sales of shark fin products by the end of March.

"This will be the last Chinese New Year in which customers can buy shark fin products at all our stores," said Seah.

Jennifer Lee, founder of Project Fin, a local group campaigning to reduce shark fin consumption, welcomed the supermarket chain's decision.

"It is encouraging to see FairPrice respond promptly to the public reaction. They can progress further by selling only sustainable food," she told AFP on Friday.

Online commentators were also quick to praise the decision.

"Thank you for putting sharks and the health of your customers before profit!," wrote "Shannon Veganista" on FairPrice's Facebook page.

Shark fin remains a sought after delicacy in the affluent Southeast Asian state, where it is largely served at Chinese festive celebrations and wedding receptions.

According to conservation group WWF, Singapore is the second largest shark fin trading centre after Hong Kong.

WWF-Hong Kong says the consumption of shark fins is a driving factor behind the threat to shark populations, with more than 180 species considered threatened in 2010 compared to only 15 in 1996.

In September last year, Cold Storage became the first supermarket chain in Singapore to stop shark fin sales as part of a collaboration with the WWF, local media reported.

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Philippines seizes butchered pangolins
Manila (AFP) Jan 6, 2012 - Philippine wildlife authorities seized a huge shipment of meat and scales from up to a hundred slaughtered pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, officials said on Friday.

Their meat and scales were probably destined for China to be used in culinary delicacies, traditional medicine and handicrafts, the officials said.

No one was arrested in the seizure operations this week at Puerto Princesa airport on the island of Palawan, the only area where they can be found in the Philippines, said local conservation official Alex Marciada.

"We suspect, considering the volume of the scales, that between 80 to 100 individual (pangolins) were butchered," Marciada, spokesman of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, told AFP.

The pangolin, which eats termites and ants, is a protected animal in the Philippines where it is considered "near-threatened" by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature due to extensive hunting and habitat loss.

Palawan authorities seized 26.5 kilograms (58 pounds) of pangolin meat on Wednesday and 95 kilograms of pangolin scales on Monday at Puerto Princesa airport, Marciada said.

Also seized with the pangolin scales were 90.5 kilograms of scales from endangered sea turtles, he said, describing the seizures as the biggest haul of trafficked pangolin meat in Palawan.

Wildlife officers said the shipment was disguised as frozen goat meat.

The government is hunting for those behind the killing of the pangolins which is punishable by up to six years in jail for every animal killed, said wildlife enforcement officer Adelina Villena.


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World-first hybrid shark found off Australia
Sydney (AFP) Jan 3, 2012
Scientists said on Tuesday that they had discovered the world's first hybrid sharks in Australian waters, a potential sign the predators were adapting to cope with climate change. The mating of the local Australian black-tip shark with its global counterpart, the common black-tip, was an unprecedented discovery with implications for the entire shark world, said lead researcher Jess Morgan. ... read more

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