On a recent morning in Port Orchard, a popular surfing spot in the Columbia River Gorge, a dozen or so people, including a man in his 60s, were scurrying to catch a glimpse of a large, green sea turtle that had been captured by a fisherman in the water.
The man had a camera attached to his camera phone and was taking pictures of the sea turtle when he was confronted by a large man with a chainsaw who was about to cut the turtle’s fins off.
“You can’t even see his face,” said David Smith, a local surfer who was in the area on a day off.
Smith said he was not surprised that the shark fin shark was on the decline in the wild.
“I don’t think it’s a good thing for the sea of sharks to go down to the low numbers they’re at right now,” he said.
Smith, who has been surfing the river for almost 40 years, said he’s never seen such a large shark in his life.
“The shark has always been there, but it’s the people that have taken over the shark,” Smith said.
“These guys are very arrogant and very aggressive.
They’re not the type of people that would just let this go and be done with it.”
The shark fin trade has been on the increase in the U.S. for years, with people and businesses willing to pay for large sharks to be caught in nets, often at the cost of the sharks lives.
Smith is one of several people who have come out to confront the fishermen and demand their immediate return to the river, where they have lived for years.
“They are very rude, very rude,” Smith told CBC News.
“We’ve had people calling the police and yelling at us, and it’s not right.”
While some people say the fish is worth a shot for the pleasure of the hunt, others say the trade is cruel.
“If we get a few of these [fin sharks], it would be great,” said Smith.
“But the people who are getting these [fish] are not doing their job.
They are killing the sharks and the people on the boat.
The people that are getting the fish are just killing the fish.”
Smith said the fishermen are taking their job too seriously.
“It’s not about the fish, it’s about the people,” he added.
In a video posted on Facebook, Smith said people are going to need to stop the trade if they are going take the fish back to the coast.
“Just like when you’re in your own life, you want to have your fun,” he wrote.
“And the sharks have to be protected.
If we do not do our job and take back the fish and take them back to where they belong, we’re going to destroy what this country has to offer.”
Smith has been calling for a moratorium on the trade since 2016.
He said he wants to know why the fish was taken.
“This is not just a sport, this is a survival, you know, survival of this country,” he told CBC.
“So if the people involved in the trade are not going to take responsibility for their actions, then why are we going to protect them?”
The Oregon State University shark research center has not seen a spike in the shark population since 2016, but the fishers are doing their best to stay ahead of the wave.
“Right now we’re seeing a lot more of them in the ocean,” said Michael Boulton, the program director of the Oregon University Shark Research Center.
Boulson said the trade has increased in the last decade.
“A lot of people are concerned about that, and they’re concerned about what it will mean to the ecosystem and what it’s going to mean for the ocean and what people will have to do to stop it,” he explained.
“When we look at the numbers of sharks, they’re actually down over the last five years, which is very good news.”
In the past year, Boulman said the Oregon shark program has been able to capture an average of about 200 sharks a day, and he expects to catch an even higher number in 2018.
“There is no doubt in my mind that we’re doing a good job,” he acknowledged.
“What I don’t see is a return to that number.”
As Boulness said, people have to decide whether they want to continue the trade or not.
“My personal answer is I’m not sure,” he admitted.
As for the fishermen, they have a few options: they can take the money and go home, or they can go to jail for the shark trade.
Bouston said there’s a very strong possibility that the fishermen will be prosecuted.
“As long as we continue this trade, it will go on,” he conceded. “All I’m