Saanich resident Teale Phelps Bondaroff is the co-founder of OceansAsia, a conservation group that helped track down a large shipment of shark fins (Submitted).

Saanich resident helps take a bite out of global shark fin trade

Teale Phelps Bondaroff co-founded OceansAsia, the conservation group that flagged the shipment

A Saanich resident has played a major role in flagging a large shipment of shark fins.

Teale Phelps Bondaroff is the co-founder of OceansAsia, a conservation group which earlier this year alerted media to bags of shark fin being unloaded in Hong Kong. The shipment had arrived in Hong Kong in April from Nicaragua in a 40-foot long container. The two companies that shipped the fins had previous vowed that they would no longer transport shark. Representatives for both companies told Reuters that they had made the delivery inadvertently.

According to Reuters, neither company broke any local or international laws around transporting shark fins but acknowledged breaching their own policies.

RELATED: Inhumane practice of carving fins off live sharks to become illegal in Canada

READ MORE: UBCM supports shark fin industry fight

According to the World Wildlife Fund, this trade has pushed more than a quarter of shark species into extinction.

Bondaroff said protection of global oceans and wildlife within them is one of the critical conservation issues.

“There is a serious lack of capacity, monitoring, and enforcement, which is resulting in the despoliation of our oceans,” he said.

Bondaroff, who has been consulting for a number of marine conservation organizations, has said it is not clear what local impact this discovery will have but nonetheless predicts future benefits. “Canada just passed legislation banning shark fin imports,” he said. “This presents numerous possibilities for future investigations given that Vancouver is a significant market for shark fins outside of Asia.”

Bondaroff”s involvement with OceansAsia dates back to his PhD research for which he investigated the strategy of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (Sea Shepherd), a marine conservation group based on San Juan Island in Washington State. During his fieldwork, he spent four months on board a Sea Shepherd vessel, where he roomed with Gary Stokes, the eventual co-founder of OceansAsia.

“Last year, [Gary] approached me about the possibility of combining our experience in marine conservation to tackle wildlife crime in the fisheries sector in Asia,” said Bondaroff. “In April of this year, we joined forces and launched OceansAsia at Adex in Singapore, Asia’s largest dive show.”


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OceansAsia, a conservation group co-founded by Saanich resident Teale Phelps Bondaroff, flagged these bags of fin to authorities earlier this year. (Teale Phelps Bondaroff/OceansAsia)

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