FEATURE: Bali shark restaurant claims dishes not endanger sharks.JIMBARAN, Indonesia, Oct. 20 Kyodo
Bambang Susilo is neither an environmentalist environmentalist
a person with an interest and knowledge about the interaction of humans and animals with the environment. nor conservationist. But he was sure that his restaurant, providing dishes from the meat of sharks will not endanger the shark population.
Shark populations worldwide are declining because people hunt them for their fins, which are valued for shark-fin soup, and for their livers to extract oil for high-grade machine oil.
Shark fin is considered a delicacy and fishermen usually throw the shark's body back to the sea after cutting the fins because its meat has a strong taste disliked by customers.
For those reasons, Susilo, who is popularly known as Pak Item or Mr. Black for wearing black every day, claimed his restaurant does not play a role in plummeting shark populations.
''My restaurant doesn't serve shark fin but meat and I only buy bye-catch blacktip reef sharks from local fishermen,'' the 42-year-old said at his wooden restaurant in Bali's Jimbaran resort area.
''Sometimes, I don't open my restaurant when the fishermen don't accidentally catch sharks in their nests,'' he added.
It took two months for Susilo, a former cook on a Caribbean cruise ship, to find the right mixture of herbs and spices to make the meat taste delicious.
Opened in 2005, his ''Restoran Hiu Pak Item,'' or Pak Item Shark Restaurant, serves shark meat in various ways -- shark steak, shark soup, shark fried rice, shark satay sa·tay also sa·té or sa·te
A dish of southeast Asia consisting of strips of marinated meat, poultry, or seafood grilled on skewers and dipped in peanut sauce. and shark meat in teriyaki ter·i·ya·ki
A Japanese dish of grilled or broiled slices of marinated meat or shellfish.
[Japanese : teri, glaze + yaki, to broil.]
Noun 1. sauce among them.
The prices range from 6,999 rupiah ru·pi·ah
n. pl. rupiah
See Table at currency.
[Hindi rupay, rupiy (about $0.68) to 13,999 rupiah.
Still, Susilo's claims of being innocent in the decrease of shark populations and efforts to serve good-tasting shark dishes have received cold responses, particularly from environmentalists.
''Shark is a predator species, so their survival must be preserved to maintain natural balance,'' Dewi Satriani, WWF See Windows Workflow Foundation. Marine Program communication officer in Indonesia, told Kyodo News.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species endangered species, any plant or animal species whose ability to survive and reproduce has been jeopardized by human activities. In 1999 the U.S. government, in accordance with the U.S. of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, has listed two shark species -- great white sharks and basking sharks -- found in Canadian waters under Appendix II, listing species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but may become so unless trade is closely controlled.
Commonly found in shallow waters on and near coral reefs and occasionally in brackish brack·ish
1. Having a somewhat salty taste, especially from containing a mixture of seawater and fresh water: "You could cut the brackish winds with a knife/Here in Nantucket" waters, blacktip reef sharks are not listed by CITES.
But, Satriani said, ''If they are caught without any controls, their survival may be under threat.''
''And, the number of bye-catch fishes is usually much bigger than the targeted ones,'' she added.
Restaurants such as the Pak Item may only buy sharks on a small scale, she said, but if there are such many restaurants, the populations of blacktip reef sharks may diminish and become extinct.
''Indonesia has ratified CITES, so it should take actions to halt such activities, particularly because this country is one of the world's leading shark-fishing nations,'' Satriani said.
Since the past year, she said, the Ministry of Sea and Fisheries has been working to draft legislation to protect the big fish and it has received input from conservationist groups such as the WWF.
''Hopefully, the legislation can be issued in the near future,'' she said.
As a species group, sharks tend to be unproductive compared to other fish. But due to its popularity, particularly in Chinese cuisine, shark populations are diminishing faster than they can reproduce.
Depending on the species, a shark can produce up to 10 fins. The tail fin of a shark is usually the most expensive, with the tail fin of the basking shark, for example, worth up to $10,000.