Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Oceana.org-Value of Sharks to Eco Tourism

From Oceana.org to a shark friend today. We have been covering the growing policy shift of NGO's worldwide toward commercial shark diving as a viable bridge solution to the protection of sharks.

Dear xxx,

As a scuba diver, I revel in the rare opportunity to see a shark swimming in the wild. In fact, according to our new report, most scuba divers are willing to pay additional money to dive with sharks and other marine life. Sea the Value: Quantifying the Value of Marine Life to Divers shows that shark conservation has economic value and that divers have a stake in conservation efforts. Fortunately, the Shark Conservation Act of 2008, a bill which would strengthen protections for sharks, recently passed the U.S. House, and is now awaiting action in the Senate. But we need your help to get it passed into law, so write to your senator today to protect sharks.

Our report reveals that shark conservation has economic value, with sharks being worth more through ecotourism ($212 million) than in fisheries ($19 million). But these top predators continue to be victims of shark finning, in which fishermen cut off their fins and discard the body at sea. This practice, as well as other unsustainable fishing practices, have decimated many shark populations, reducing some by as much as 99 percent. Smaller populations of sharks reduce the chance of seeing one in the wild, subtracting from scuba divers' experiences in the water.

Currently only sharks in the Atlantic Ocean are required to be landed with their fins attached. The good news is that recently more than 11,000 WaveMakers like you took the time to contact Congress, and as a result the House of Representatives passed the Shark Conservation Act of 2008, which requires U.S. fishermen to land sharks whole, with their fins naturally attached.

But the Shark Conservation Act of 2008 will not become law unless it is also passed in the Senate. Senator Kerry introduced the Senate companion to the House bill, S. 3231. This legislation will improve existing laws that were originally intended to prevent shark finning and will allow the United States to continue being an international leader in shark conservation.

So dive in and tell your senators to Sea the Value and support the Shark Conservation Act of 2008 today!

Isla Guadalupe Update-No Chumming

This morning the NEX arrived on site to discover a MX Navy frigate sitting in the North Bay with members of the MX government agency PROFEPA on board. This is the same frigate that boarded the Solmar V yesterday.

The NEX has been informed-by the navy-the 2008 no chumming ban is in full effect. The chum ban stems from a series of EIS (environmental impact studies) submitted by each vessel and now not recognised by the MX Navy.

As we have been reporting this situation is fluid and the NEX is the only vessel on station at this time.

There is some confusion between operations right now as to what the implications are for ongoing operations this year. That is to be expected. We are choosing to bring you updates as they come in from as many sources as we can so you can make informed decisions, and be aware.

The overall implications are very grim. If the MX Navy is successful in essentially banning chumming at this site, the eco tour vessels that act as "shark sentries" here will be gone-opening this robust population up to illegal fishermen who will come to this island for both it's proximity to the mainland of Mexico and ease of animal acquisitions. It is too much to hope that Mexico will leave a navy frigate on site for each season to protect these animals.

Right now hard decisions are being made by the various eco tour operators along with full court conversations within the various governing agencies inside Mexico. This is the latest news. It may change and we will keep you updated.

Dual Passports-NZ White Sharks are Aussies Too!

Recent exciting white shark news from tracking teams in the South Island of New Zealand. Much to the surprise of everyone sharks from NZ migrate to Australia and back each season to feed on young Humpback whales:

New Zealand's great white sharks migrate to tropical waters off Australia and islands in the Pacific to feed on baby humpback whales, scientists say.

After tracking tagged sharks using GPS, New Zealand fisheries scientists have concluded the giant ocean hunters appear to be regular winter visitors to tropical waters.

One of nine great white sharks to have GPS-linked tags attached this year, a 3.5m specimen nicknamed Thomas, migrated to Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

He turned up within 100km of where a 4.4m female great white, nicknamed Kerri, arrived last summer, setting a distance record for a New Zealand shark.

Both swam more than 3000km to the reef after being fitted with tags which record location, depth and temperatures.

The tags are set to pop off the shark and float to the surface to transmit data to a satellite linked to scientists' computers. Other tags have popped up in New Caledonia, Vanuatu, and halfway to Tonga and these trans-oceanic migrations to tropical waters have changed perceptions of the sharks as cold water, coastal creatures.

"We think they may be searching for newborn humpback whale calves, because all tags have surfaced in or near known humpback calving sites," National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research fisheries scientist Malcolm Francis said. Because sharks tagged in Australia have also turned up in New Zealand waters, scientists think that white sharks in the southwest Pacific may comprise a single population.

The shark tagging was started in 2005.