L’homme mangeur de requins

BONN – Les requins ont longtemps été peints comme des mangeurs d’hommes, une menace pour tout nageur assez courageux (ou assez fou) pour fendre les mêmes eaux. Mais cette perception ne saurait être plus loin de la vérité. En fait, les populations de squales sont extrêmement vulnérables et en forte diminution – principalement du fait des activités humaines – et ont urgemment besoin d‘une protection à l’échelle internationale.

Il est vrai que ces dernières années ont vu bon nombre d’initiatives louables de protection des requins. Une campagne menée par l’organisme américain Wild Aid a contribué à une importante baisse de la demande d’ailerons de requins dans toute l’Asie. La Chine a ainsi interdit que l’on serve de la soupe aux ailerons de requin, un mets de choix traditionnel, aux repas et fonctions officiels d’État – un geste qui a permis de faire fléchir de 30 % les ventes d’ailerons de requins de décembre à avril. Dans le sud du pays, à Canton, le centre du commerce des ailerons de requin de la Chine, les négociants ont déclaré une baisse des recettes de 82 % pour les deux dernières années.

Il ne devrait pas être difficile d’inciter les pays à instaurer des mesures de protection de leurs populations de requins, car la valeur économique d’un requin est fortement réduite lorsqu’on le tue. Une étude de l’Institut océanographique de l’Australie a estimé que l’activité économique liée à l’observation en plongée des requins aux Palaos vaut plus que sa pêche commerciale de requin. Un seul requin gris qui fréquente les principaux sites de plongée des îles Palaos vaut en gros 179 000 $ annuellement, ou 1,9 million $ pour sa vie entière ; le même requin vaudrait environ 108 $ mort.

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