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Japanese Fishermen Criticized for Releasing Finless Sharks

July 26, 1991

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Japanese fishing practices came under fire today after a television crew filmed workers aboard one boat cutting the fins off sharks, then throwing the still-live bodies overboard.

The crew had been flying over the remnants of a major oil spill in the Indian Ocean off Australia’s west coast and said they came upon the boat by accident.

The fisheries minister of Western Australia state, Gordon Hill, called the practice ″barbaric″ and said he would ask the federal government to clarify its guidelines on fishing in Australian territorial waters.

Shark fins are used throughout Asia to make a soup that some consider an aphrodisiac.

Australian fishermen oppose Japanese taking school and gummy sharks, the stalwarts of Australia’s commercial shark fishing industry.

The Fishing Industry Council in Tasmania, an island state southeast of the mainland, said one Japanese tuna boat in its waters was catching up to 500 sharks a night, cutting off their fins and throwing them back into the sea.

The council’s executive officer, Dale Bryan, called the practice a ″wanton waste″ and said future licensing arrangements with Japanese fishing concerns should force them to use all of the shark, not just its fins.

Bryan said there was also evidence to suggest the Japanese were catching endangered snapper sharks and cutting off their fins.

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