Speaking this Tuesday to the Lusa agency, the executive director of EcoAngola, Érica Tavares, said they received the first accusations, from several people, on September 12 on this situation in the municipality of Cacuaco, Luanda province, but without images.
"But then we got someone to send us some images and sent the first photos that were taken in Cacuaco, Luanda," she said.
According to Érica Tavares, in the complaint "it was found that many sharks were actually being fished on purpose and just to remove the fins".
"A few days later, on September 17, we ended up receiving a similar complaint, but this time in Benguela, which was the video shown and which also, according to the reports of the person who sent the complaint and according to witnesses, is that fishermen have been doing this lately, which has been common practice," she added.
Erica Tavares pointed out that the witnesses point out that "it is citizens of Chinese nationality who have made this purchase".
"And we know that this is an exotic product in Asia, that they have been making that shark fin soup, because it is believed to have medicinal benefits, aphrodisiac powers, while in reality this is myth, it is not scientifically proven to cause this, but as there is a very large market in China we believe that this is being exported to China," she stressed.
EcoAngola, a project that has been in existence for a year, with 100 active members, contacted the Institute of Biodiversity and Conservation Area of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Environment, which promised to carry out an investigation and issue a public statement on the situation.
Given the current context in the country, due to the covid-19 pandemic, it has not yet been possible for EcoAngola to place itself in the field for research, said Érica Tavares, in that sense, she passed the information to the institutions that have this responsibility.
For the environmentalist, the problem in Angola is the lack of inspection, which only occurs after there is a complaint and social pressure.
"And that's what we're trying to do, we made the complaint, we're waiting, but we're doing that pressure so that we can make things happen, so that there can be an investigation, a response and make the public aware", she underlined.
Urged to advance an estimate of dead sharks in this practice, Érica Tavares said she can't advance quantities, but emphasized that "it's a lot".
"And this amount of overfishing of sharks can cause a great imbalance in marine flora and fauna, because sharks are predators and they can control the populations of other types of species that are below sharks and if there is this imbalance other populations can grow a lot," she stressed. "For example, many algae or many plants can grow that are controlled by other shark-controlled fish, this can happen, which is the cascading effect," she added.
The provinces of Luanda and Benguela are the ones pointed out as registering this environmental crime, but the executive director of EcoAngola believes that it may be happening all along the coast, "where there are sharks and where there is this search".
"In the past fishermen didn't even want to know about sharks, that was bad luck when sharks got in the nets, they were soon dropped, but now as there is this demand and also the need, poverty in Angola is increasing, and if there is this 'fezada' [luck] the shark is fished, because there is also this public understanding of this balance of marine fauna and flora," she said.
Regarding the rest of the animal, after the fins were removed to trade, at a price that the environmentalist is unaware of, witnesses said it is discarded.
"But I don't believe this is a very realistic possibility, because we know that this situation of poverty is really aggravated and I don't believe that fishermen simply throw away those fish leftovers, I believe that they should consume the fish," she said.