DAVID ASMAN: His book "Jaws" made the world afraid to go in the water. Now instead of writing about killer marine life, Peter Benchley helps save them. Joining us from Miami, the new spokesman for the Center For Sustainable Fisheries, please to welcome him here today, Peter Benchley. Thank you for coming in.
>> Thank you David.
DAVID ASMAN: Do you have regrets over writing the book that arguably caused a lot of people to become hysterical about marine life?
>>… I have no regrets at all, it was a book that was in my mind for a long time, …I did not cause man's fears of sharks and I simply was the first to tap into a book, and then later into the movie, so the amount of damage being done to sharks today has nothing to do with jaws, it has to do with fish technology, et cetera, et cetera.
DAVID ASMAN: And a question everybody -- with mosquito sharks you do not hear of the good they do but the bad and the harm and the drama … as we saw in the movie. What good do sharks do?
>> Your premise is absolutely -- right, that all you hear is the bad news of sharks and 50,000 a year get killed in car crash and when one gets killed by a shark, it makes headlines around the world. They are the top of the marine food chain as grizzly bears and tigers are … they are vital to the marine mammals in the ocean they themselves comb the weak and weary, they help the evolutionary process and they maintain balance in the ocean. If we were to eliminate … the predator from the ocean the affects worldwide would be catastrophic.
DAVID ASMAN: Why are they depleted, over fished or what?
>> Yes, largely over fishing and largely for strangely enough shark fishing. Because of a rise of the middle class in Asia, the demand for shark fin soup, a status symbol, I am rich enough to serve shark fin soup at my daughter's wedding. It is meant where they cut sharks away, and let them live. They take them, slash the fins off … and throw it back into the sea to die and you cannot believe the figures but in 1999, 6600 tons of dried fishes passed through Hong Kong alone, and that represents 25 million animals killed so the numbers are staggering.
DAVID ASMAN: It is amazing, not just sharks in fairness to the other friends from the deep sea, tuna and so forth there is a lot of over fishing going on isn't there?
>> Around the world fishing is stressed … populations are stressed beyond endurance …Agricultural fish farming is good in certain cases … it is controversial because it causes pollution and change in the biology of the animals … The good news is people are beginning to pay attention to the center for sustainable fisheries trying to get information without banning fish, sort of maintain a sustainable use of the oceans and this, the idea here is to find out if you can create … marine protected areas where the fish can be able to spawn breed, grow and obtain a size when we take them out, as it goes right now, we're taking too many and we can't replace them.
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