Monday, June 29, 2009
No matter how solid government sanctioned fisheries laws are there will always be a loophole somewhere in the wording that allows unregulated or marginal fisheries activities to continue.
Case in point - a recent scene of utter destruction on Darien Island, Panama:
Hundreds of juvenile sharks slayed for their fins yet nobody knows anything. Tourists witness the scene PANAMA. Panama Marvel Tours is a local tour company which explores the fauna and flora of Panama. On a recent trip, company director, Lory Forero de Proctor took two Americans – one a military man and the other a House worker - for a sea tour in Darien. They were in for a shocking experience.
The travellers departed from Punta Alegre to visit Cedro Island, a mineral-rich site in the Caribbean Sea. On landing, they decided to explore the island, only to find a scene of death. A huge area of the coast was covered with hundreds - if not thousands – of dismembered juvenile sharks. "Without noticing it at first, we were walking over their dead bodies," said Lory, disconcerted and ashamed the tourists had to witness this tragic sight. She said they saw nearby a small boat of indigenous people with fishing nets, which could mean that the sharks were victims of artisanal fin-fishing. But since there were no witnesses, this is just a theory.
Shark fining is the removal and retention of shark fins and the discard at sea of the carcass. In this case, the sharks were just tossed on the beach. The international demand for shark fins is enormous and represents big income in the economy but illegal and excessive catches are a threat to conservation of the species. La Estrella contacted the Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama (ARAP) to know where they stand on this matter but the person in charge of this topic was not reachable. A public relations employee told the newspaper that it could mean a case of illegal fishing.
She said ARAP has ports that regulate all fishing activities in Panama. She also remarked that the method seen in the pictures is not adequate and that it could contaminate the island. ARAP´s office of Inspection, Surveillance and Control said that had not received any prior report of this matter. They will now contact their regional office in Darien for them to go and inspect the area. Law 44 of 2006 sanctions the crime of illegal fishing with minimal fines - $100 – and seizure of the product.
Law 9 of March 16 2006 prohibits the practice of shark fining in Panamanian territorial waters. However it does not include the fishing of juvenile sharks, according to the PR person in ARAP. Reports of suspicious fishing activities can be made to ARAP´s Inspection, Surveillance and Control office at 800-7272.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Fisheries and Marine officers arrested Fu-Hsin Chen at Perth Airport as he was preparing to board a flight to Taiwan yesterday morning.
Chen was charged in relation to the alleged seizure of approximately 10 tonnes of shark products from a commercial fishing vessel at Broome Wharf almost a year ago.
Chen is the owner manager of Shine Year Fisheries (Aust) Pty Ltd. The company’s vessel Fortune was authorised to fish off the northern coast of WA.
Both Chen and his company have been charged under the Fish Resources Management Regulations, which state commercial fishing boats can only carry or unload whole shark.
Under the regulations sharks may have their fins cut from their bodies but only the head and parts removed during gutting can be disposed of at sea.
Fisheries northern region manager Peter Godfrey said the regulations were in place to prevent the unsustainable practice of “finning”, where the high value fins are retained and the low-value trunks are thrown overboard.
“The demand for shark fins from markets in Asia has resulted in worldwide concern over the future sustainability of shark stocks,” Mr Godfrey said.
Chen and his company face two charges which carry a maximum of $10,000 each and additional fines of up to $14 million.
If convicted the total fines imposed are at the discretion of the magistrate who may chose one of two mandatory penalties – to charge per weight of the sharks taken, or per individual shark.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
If you're in the shark conservation world you have heard of her or enjoyed her wines at innumerable ocean conservation events across the country.
Melanie's company acts as the "shark conversation lubricant" that has launched more conservation ideas, solutions, and efforts then her company generally gets attributed for.
Melanie also keeps tabs on all things shark related and this week alerted her shark network to a seemingly small and some might say insignificant issue with a regional eye wear company (see ad).
To folks like Melanie and Shark Trust Wines who have dedicated the last eight years of her life to sharks and the positive perception of sharks - every bit helps.
Kudos for bringing attention to this. If you would like to add your voice please do so, here is the website you can send a calm, well reasoned letter explaining the need for positive shark media.
Friday, June 26, 2009
A stingray leaps out of the water as it is hunted by a killer whale, whose fin can be seen below the ray, just off St. Heliers beach in Auckland, New Zealand, Wednesday, June 24, 2009.
(AP Photo/New Zealand Herald Photograph, Brett Phibbs)
Today another pro shark Op-Ed appeared in The Independent summing up the issue of sport take sharks.
Killing a majestic shark just for the ego-massage is plain wrong
By Ian O'Doherty
Friday June 26 2009
So, here's the deal. You like fishing, and while on holidays in County Clare you go out onto the water and before you know it, you get a bite. A big one, maybe even the biggest you've ever had.
So, after hours of battling the beast, you finally reel it in -- and discover that you've just nabbed a record-breaking half-tonne, six-gill shark.
They're incredibly rare off our waters and, for catching it with just a rod and line, Swiss angler Joe Waldis certainly deserves respect.
But to then have the shark killed so he could take it ashore and massage his ego by having his picture taken with this majestic creature was utterly despicable; a classic illustration of what happens to animals when man's ego crosses their path.
It's ironic that Waldis should land the fish in the same week that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature issued an alarming report warning that up to a third of the world's sharks and rays face imminent extinction due to over-fishing and the truly barbarous practise of 'finning'.
As shark fin soup continues to be a prized delicacy in Japan -- where, like just about every other food item they eat over there, it's seen to have aphrodisiac qualities -- thousands of sharks are caught every month.
When they're dragged aboard, their fins are sliced off and then the shark, still alive and in unbelievable pain, is unceremoniously dumped overboard, where it corkscrews down to the bottom, promptly drowning.
And, frankly, there is no difference in what those charming Japanese do to defenceless sharks to what Waldis did.
I'm certainly no vegetarian; indeed I'm a proud carnivore.
And when that creature is as rare and endangered and beautiful as a six-gill, it should be a crime to kill it simply to take a picture of the carcass.
Terrifying and majestic, these incredible creatures have a virtual stranglehold on the imaginations of millions, largely, but not entirely, down to Spielberg's classic Jaws.
That film seared itself into the psyche of several generations and, personally, still remains my favourite film of all time -- the pull shot focusing on Brody's face when the Kintner boy is attacked is still one of best pieces of cinematography in modern cinema history -- and it is certainly responsible for captivating millions of people.
After all, everyone's afraid of the dark and it doesn't get darker than the ocean depths and the creatures concealed within.
The irony of the success of Jaws, both the book and the movie, is that it led to the slaughter of tens of millions of sharks, as idiots everywhere decided they were going to become real-life shark hunters like Quint.
It was a situation which haunted the author, Peter Benchley, who then spent the rest of his life fighting for shark conservation.
The guilt of the unintended consequences of his actions virtually broke the man and, before his death from cancer when he was asked what his biggest regret was, he replied, tragically: "Writing Jaws."
The irony of being haunted by his most famous creation wasn't lost on him, and he spent his life spending the millions he made from the book and movie on shark conservation programmes in a desperate attempt to try and absolve himself of some of the crushing guilt he felt every day.
When asked about the possibility of an updated version of the film, he once commented: "Well, the shark could not be the villain; it would have to be the victim, for sharks are much more the oppressed than the oppressors.
"Interestingly, Ireland is one of the finest shark fishing spots in the world, with the nutrient-rich waters off our West Coast regularly attracting large Blues and Makos.
And earlier this month, there were rumours of a Great White being spotted off Cornwall.
So, when you consider that Whites have been found in the Bay Of Biscay, there's no reason why they shouldn't make it as far as Cornwall. And, if they can get as far as Cornwall then there's no reason why, much to the excitement of Irish shark lovers, they couldn't make it to our waters.
But I would fear for any Great White which would swim through our waters -- you can imagine the media hysteria, the panicked calls to Joe Duffy from parents who are afraid to let their precious children into the water and the general lack of composure that seems to afflict most people when the word 'shark' is mentioned.
But it's not just sharks that are needlessly killed.
Only a few months back, the papers were full of pictures of a woman who had paid to go to Zimbabwe so she could fulfil her rather odd ambition -- to kill an elephant with a bow and arrow.
The pictures of Teresa Groenwald-Hagerman proudly standing over the corpse of that once proud creature, beaming smugly at the camera holding the bow and arrow thankfully blew back into her face and it wasn't long before her personal details were up online and she was bombarded with thousands of abusive emails.
Despite what the lunatics in groups such as PETA would have you believe, there's nothing morally wrong about hunting for meat.
We are, after all, carnivores and are top of our food chain -- as sharks are in their environment.
But if you're going to kill something, kill it for the pot.
Anyone who kills something as beautiful as a shark simply for the ego massage is, frankly, a bit of a bastard.
And bags me first into the water if we ever do see a Great White off our shores ...
- Ian O'Doherty
The Shark Safe program offers certification to qualifying restaurants and select businesses that demonstrate a commitment to shark conservation, and uses an easily recognizable logo to distinguish participating establishments.
COARE began development of its Shark Safe program in early-2007, seeking to protect sharks by raising awareness of threats to shark populations and by reducing the demand for shark products. In July of 2007, Jim Toomey, the artist behind the popular syndicated cartoon Sherman's Lagoon, joined the effort and helped form the Shark Safe logo in use today.
The forthcoming Shark Safe website (sharksafe.org) is under development, and will serve as a portal for consumers to find certified Shark Safe establishments, and for businesses aspiring to become Shark Safe to learn more about the program. As a conservation based effort, sharksafe.org will also offer information about the plight of sharks and about the need for their conservation.
COARE's recent announcement noted its plan to expand the program and that it was seeking Ambasssadors to extend the reach, depth, and effectiveness of the Shark Safe effort.
Visit http://www.coare.org/sharksafe for more information.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
80% of Africa and Asia still uses traditional medicine as a first line cure for regional illness. While the earths population is hovering around 6,768,167,712 that's a massive demand for all raw use animal products, not just sharks:
LONDON, England (CNN) -- Alternative treatments are as varied as the regions of the world they come from. And while they attract skepticism from some Western medical practitioners, they are an undeniable part of global health.
In parts of Asia and Africa, 80 percent of the population depend on these treatments as their primary form of healthcare.
Shark fin has long been used in traditional Asian medicine. Shark fin soup is regarded as a tonic that promotes general well-being, and shark fin has even been claimed to have anti-cancer properties. Shark fins are mainly composed of cartilage, a type of connective tissue found in the skeletal systems of many animals.
In Japan, they are sold by herbalists as a powder, in tablet form or as whole fins. While shark fin has been used for centuries in Asia, in recent years it has become more popular in the West.
A book called "Sharks Don't Get Cancer," published in 1992, popularized the idea of shark fin as an alternative cancer treatment in the West, and powdered shark fin is now sold as dietary supplement.
But what about dead sharks?
They too serve a purpose. Perhaps it is the sheer numbers of sharks that get taken for fins each year (25-75 million) that become the conservation movements hardest challenge.
How do you generate understanding and public sympathy for a number?
A single dead shark can generate understanding, sympathy and action. It was a single pregnant female Tiger taken in the Bahamas back in 2007 that spawned the Shark Free Marinas Initiative.
The public, no matter how jaded towards sharks, will respond to a single animal taken and killed for no obvious reason, and that is the heart of the shark conservation movement.
One shark, an ambassador for the entire species.
For a prime example of this look no further than a recent take in Ireland of an 18 foot Six Gill shark. This sport take of a single animal has managed to raise the ire and media bandwidth of many around the world including Ireland. This single animals death prompted a wave of conservation discussion - a feat that all the long liners off Ireland's coast could not.
We covered it too as it was quickly evident that this single shark was going to become the ambassador animal for the regions conservation news. Conservation change starts with the public understanding of sharks and "Sympathy for the Devil".
We can get there with these few unfortunate animals.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Typical shark media for the mainstream folks who often go to great lengths to instill a fear of sharks with the public.
What was not mentioned in our blog post was the origin of this media hit, a research paper by University of Miami's Neil Hammerschlag.
Here was the email we got today from Neil explaining how his research paper became the "shark topic de jour" this week:
This study is getting a lot of attention; however it is as misunderstood as sharks. Some media are sensationalizing/twisting the results of the study to sell papers. I hope readers will be more critical and seek out the real scientific paper.
In this study, a technique called geographic profiling (originally developed as a criminal investigation tool) was applied to analyze patterns of white shark predation on seals at Seal Island, in False Bay, South Africa.
Sharks hunt to eat. They are predators and seals are their prey. Serial killers have mental disorders and such disorders cannot be applied to animals. The study does not characterize sharks as serial killers in anyway, just that white sharks are more complex than we originally thought.
Sharks are constantly swimming, and unlike other animals they do not have the equivalent of a den, nest, or burrow. Therefore, establishing the existence (including location, size, and shape) of a search base or “centre of gravity” for a search pattern could provide important insight into their hunting behavior.
By applying geographic profiling, the study found that sharks are not mindless killers, but are in fact using sophisticated hunting strategies. The study found that sharks appeared to be hunting in an optimal manner geospatially. Sharks processed a well-defined anchor point or search base, but not where the chances of prey interception were greatest. This location may therefore represent a balance of prey detection, capture rates, and inter-shark competition.
The study also found that smaller sharks had more dispersed prey search patterns and lower kill success rates than larger sharks. This could mean that white sharks refine their search patterns with experience and learn to concentrate hunting efforts in locations with the highest probability of successful prey capture. It might also be that larger sharks competitively exclude smaller sharks from the best hunting areas.
The most important thing is conservation of these magnificent animals.
If you read the study published online today in the Journal of Zoology, I am sure you will find it very interesting.
For a better news story please visit:
University of Miami
Ph.D. Candidate, Marine Biology & Fisheries
Co-Director, South Florida Student Shark Program (SFSSP)
Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science (RSMAS)
4600 Rickenbacker Cswy, Miami, Florida, 33149
O: 305.421.4356 F: 305.421.4600 C: 954.815.0920
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Next to eye catching headlines like "Grandma Explodes on Loo" and "UFO Crop Circles Invade Wembly" you really do not get any good shark reporting from this Fox NewsCorp media train wreck.
Case in point and ripped from today's headlines:
Researchers used methods copied from criminology to show that great whites pick their targets in a highly focused fashion.
Prolific killers such as the infamous 19th century beast who stalked London's East End and Peter Sutcliffe, the "Yorkshire Ripper", behave in much the same way.
Editors Note: Anyone wonder why close to 100 million sharks are finned each year and no one seems to care?
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
From the Captain Mel Website
Along with a full open hour a 6 AM — and the next two hours our special guests include Mote Marine’s shark expert Dr. Bob Hueter and — Luke Tipple, Director of the Shark-Free Marina Initiative – plus lots of your phone calls – 6 to 9 AM every Saturday on Florida’s most popular radio fishing program — The 970-WFLA “Capt. Mel Show.” Call in – Listen in!
You can listen in by following this link
Captain Mel has been promoting Shark Conservation and catch and release for almost 20 years, here’s what he has to say on the issue:
Catch & Release: What a Concept!
By CAPT. MEL BERMAN, 970-WFLA
You would think that me, “a reformed meat fisherman” would take these things in stride – go with the flow. But I gotta tell you – seeing a beautiful, hapless big tiger shark dragged in dead off the New England coast a few years back by a group of guys hoping to win a prize– really turned me off. And to compound the matter, many of the “no-nothing about fish and fishing” TV media hailed these men as “conquering heroes”
”Wow, that was some catch,” mused one lame TV interviewer. “How big was that baby.” “1100 pounds” said one of the anglers. The sad part is that a magnificent animal was killed – and those guys were six minutes late. So they didn’t even cash in on their ill begotten spoils.
I know, I know. Many reading this could be thinking “what a shark hugger!” But the more I see the destruction of some of nature’s most impressive creatures for such mundane reasons, the more I realize that kill tournaments have to go the way of the horse-drawn carriage and Hula Hoops. It’s just plain sad.
As a 40-year resident of the Sunshine Sate, I can recall the common sight of massive sharks, tarpon, amberjack and other leviathans of the deep hung unceremoniously to rot in the sun. Even then I felt twinges of anguish of the fate of these creatures.
Many of these great denizens of the sea had their lives terminated because of the proliferation of so-called kill tournaments throughout the state at that time.
These days, most of us have concluded that there is no valid reason for kill tournaments – especially since we have such great new tools like digital cameras and other new age devices for recording and reporting one’s catch.
This great concept was pioneered several years ago by Capt. Richard Seward and his colleagues of the Tampa Bay CCA Chapter. These days, catch and photo release contests are the norm with the great majority of tournaments and organizations<
In the more than 20 years that I have been hosting my 970-WFLA radio show, it’s been an inspiration to see the trend — “Catch and release.” That’s the mantra of many, if not most Florida sportfishers. Basically, these folks want to make sure that their “fishing partners” – the fish — are happy, healthy and multiply.
Does this mean that I think we shouldn’t take an occasional fillet or two – or even three home for dinner? Absolutely not. I personally enjoy a nice fillet or two on frequent occasion. Yet, is it my job to feed the neighborhood? Do I need the “gee-whiz” experience of laying out dozens of dead fish on the dock? Why would you?
Fish are most attractive and fun when they are alive and vibrant. So why not take a quick picture — and put that critter back so it can rejoin its kinfolk in the deep.
And please, take the time to learn how to best release all target species so that they survive the experience.
Experts recommend that it’s best to leave the fish in the water and use some kind of needle nose pliers or release device to let them go. And if you must lift a fish out of the water to pose for a picture, remember — that creature was designed to spend its entire life in a horizontal position. So when taking pictures, hold the fish horizontally with wet hands – avoid using a towel or rag – take you pictures and return that baby to the water as quickly as possible.
My pal “The Mad Snooker” (Capt. Dave Pomerleau) often says, “try holding your own breath for the entire time you have a fish out of the water. Then you will have some idea of how the fish feels.”
Now if only we could somehow bottle that “Florida catch and release spirit” and export it to other parts of the U. S. and the world.
Today the fund continues to generate much needed money for new and ongoing Mexican lead shark research.
Support shark diving operations that support shark research.
Your dollars go towards shark conservation and detailed understanding of local shark populations through science.
The operators on the front lines of tagging and tracking shark research and support for the past 7 years at Isla Guadalupe are the following. These are the operations who have consistently donated time, money, and energy towards local sharks well beyond their commercial side:
Save Our Seas Foundation has done it again, with the help of Saatchi & Saatchi in South Africa.
Together they developed a campaign in aquariums with stickers that "inside out" on shark tanks - so the message was actually to the sharks and read: "Warning - Predators beyond this point - Humans kill over 100 million sharks each year"
Editors Note: Brilliant, kudos to all for the idea.
The group wants to enforce a state law that makes it illegal to feed sharks within three miles of shore.
The formation of the task force comes about two months after Hawaii Kai community members strongly opposed a shark tour in their area, which ultimately caused a planned operation in Maunalua Bay to be called off.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The Shark-Free Marina Initiative has my full support.
Why? Because during the last few months Florida has experienced numerous highly publicized shark kills. Some for world record status, others for bragging rights. Then the lifeless carcass, many pregnant females are dumped back to sea.
The commercial fishing industry takes the biggest toll on the shark populations and there’s little that can be done in the short term to stop it, but we must press lawmakers for more legislation. This huge waste of a precious resource is having a detrimental effect on the Maine ecosystem and the negative effects are beginning to take hold on the marine environment.
With this I mind, I’ve often wondered what I and other concerned citizens can do to protect these large apex predators. Changing state and federal laws takes years, and more protection is something that needs to be addressed. Meanwhile by supporting The Shark-Free Marina Initiative all of us can start to make a positive impact now.
Here’s how you can get involved. If you keep your boat at a municipal or private marina, ask if they would like make their facility a shark free kill zone by supporting The Shark-Free Marina Initiative. Lecturers can mention the initiative during appearances at fishing clubs and events. And most importantly we can all make shark anglers aware of the value in releasing their catch live and well.
Please join me and show your support for The Shark-Free Marina Initiative.
For charter information call 813-286-3474 or visit www.afishionado.com.
White Mike was known to a very small community of hard core folks in and around L.A putting up posters for conservation.
That was until Jessica Alba...let's stop right there and just savor that name for a moment...ahhh, moving on.
Until Jessica and Mike blew up in Oklahoma with a poster pasting gone bad.
Or did it?
We have said it before and we'll say it again. Shark conservation is like a million ants taking down an elephant. White Mike is now a household name, and his conservation message on target.
Welcome to White Mike and his ant army. Cool idea, wonder where he shot that shark image?
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The editors of the Destin Log published an online poll today to determine regional and national views of this event.
To add your opinion click on the poll down on the lower right hand side.
Change begins with "One". Opinions count.
We have been waiting for a shark film to come along that balances the horrors of shark finning, loss of shark populations, and the public's ongoing negative perception of sharks...without a hidden eco agenda or media hype.
The wait is over, welcome to Requiem a shark conservation film launched in 2007.
"Recent research using computer modeling has shown that the removal of sharks from their ecosystems could have devastating and unpredictable consequences for the abundance of commercially important fish stocks. Sharks, as apex predators, regulate the abundance of other fish and are therefore keystone species in the health of our ocean ecosystems. The practice of shark finning is capable of removing entire stocks of sharks in a very short space of time"
Of note was the recent Bull shark killed on St Petersburg Pier, Bucky Denis’ Hammerhead and ‘Mark the Sharks’ Tiger shark kill. All three of these events have one thing in common, savvy media who questioned the sense of killing breeding age animals.
Wade gave us this example of ecological impacts from his local region:
"Tampa Bay is one of the Gulf of Mexico’s largest estuaries covering 398 square miles and is home to many species of shark. Most sharks that inhabit the bay are small coastal sharks such as Blacktip, Bonnethead, and Lemon sharks. In the warmer months, migrations of large Bull and Hammerhead sharks move into the bay to give birth to their pups.
Now, I’m not a marine biologist, but I’ve noticed there have been fewer large sharks in Tampa Bay over the past decade and an increase in stingrays. I believe the major reason for the boom in the stingray population is the decrease in their number one predator, the shark.
A healthy marine ecosystem needs sharks for a stable environment. It’s time anglers are educated on the role sharks play and the importance of not needlessly killing sharks, especially large sharks.
There have been numerous local and national media hyped shark kills of late in Florida. The parties involved should forego the world records, swallow their egos and think of the negative impact they’re having on this magnificent species.
Media outlets can also play a major role in getting the message out. Instead of sensationalizing the story by touting the “Thrill of the Kill,” try reporting how beneficial it would be to release their trophy to live another day, particularly pregnant females.
All concerned anglers, municipal marinas and private marina owners unite; support the Shark Free Marina Initiative. I do!"
Captain Wade Osborne
Afishionado Guide Services
SFMI is currently working in three regions in the USA, the Bahamas and in Fiji to enact shark conservation change. That change will ultimately save sharks:
COLUMN: 'Shark Saturdays' promote ‘species eradication'
Shark fishing tournaments are a primal spectacle and tourist attraction that play on our innate awe of the “monster fish.” However, as more is learned about the imminent demise of many shark species, a more educated public is starting to emerge.
Destin’s Shark Saturdays is one such example of questionable promotion.
The event, scheduled for October, is actually four individual Saturdays which are part of a month-long fishing tournament. Helen Donaldson, the event’s executive director, states the purpose of the event is to “get more people fishing in Destin,” and here’s where the real problem lies.
While a shark being brought to the docks is unquestionably a crowd pleaser, the public is becoming more aware that they are witness to the decline of an already threatened species. Take for example, the Rodeo record-breaking mako that the event caught in 2007, which attracted criticism from around the world. According to event organizers the targeted species include bull sharks, hammerheads and tiger sharks, all of which appear on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s threatened species list.
The United States does not currently have any shark species listed as “endangered,” however, to be declared ‘threatened’ a species must be in danger of imminent population decline.
While recreational shark fishing regulations do exist, they are tough to monitor and therefore seldom enforced. If the objective of Shark Saturdays is to increase the number of people fishing for “threatened” species, then we have to ask the obvious question: Should we really be promoting species eradication?
Somewhere along the line, there has to be a change in how we view the ocean and the animals that make up a healthy ecosystem.
Specifically targeting breeding-age sharks for slaughter is ecologically unsafe. This action contributes significantly to overall population decline as competitors inevitably wait to catch the largest sharks, which are usually female and quite often pregnant.
Despite all this, the industry and economy of shark fishing tournaments cannot be ignored.
So what is the solution?
Our new resource management group believes we have the answer.
The Shark-Free Marina Initiative was established as an answer to the culture of “mature shark harvests.”
There is nothing wrong with catch and release shark fishing. When proper standards are followed, the animal can be released back into the breeding population. Fishermen can still enjoy the thrill of the hunt and be rewarded for their catch.
All it takes is for officials to switch their reward structure from weighing the animal, to measuring the animal in the water.
Shark-free Marinas promises to reduce worldwide shark mortality by prohibiting fishermen from bringing dead sharks to the dock. Instead they aim to work with marinas and fishing groups to develop events that will draw a crowd but don’t allow the mortal take of these “threatened” species.
Points and prizes will be awarded for sharks tagged, measured and released while the crowd remain entertained on the docks by interactive attractions and the usual fare that accompanies these events.
Already the SFMI is gaining supporters, and they are currently working with events such as the “Are You Man Enough?” fishing tournament to set a new standard in fishing competition. SFMI commends the Destin Fishing Rodeo for their shark tagging division but questions the sense in killing these animals for the top awarded prize of a mere $250.
All we are talking about is sensible management of ocean resources — particularly in relation to sharks.
It’s time that we drop the “Jaws” rhetoric and accept that we need these animals in the ocean. Events such as Shark Saturday make money by killing dwindling populations of sharks, and this kind of "family" event just perpetuates this culture in the kids who should be taught environmental responsibility.
With a little restructuring, we can help tournament organizers create a positive community event while still entertaining their hard core fishing audience.
Visit the Shark-Free Marinas website at www.sharkfreemarinas.com for more information.
Luke Tipple is Director of the Shark-Free Marina Initiative
Saturday, June 13, 2009
A small mom and pop operation this was not as Mr. Harrison recently confessed to selling "millions of Florida caught sharks fin" over the years. The trick is, in the state of Florida you need to report your catches and Mr. Harrison did not leading to a recent bust, arrest and guilty pleading this week.
According to the charges and other information presented in court, Harrison allegedly represented himself to be the nation's largest shark fin buyer, purchasing "millions" of shark fins since he had been in the business, beginning in 1989. According to the plea agreements, in
Finally, the plea agreements reveal that for almost four years Harrison processed shark fins by drying them on open air racks and/or tarpaulins laid on the ground, outdoors, on his property in
"Trafficking the fins of these shark species is not a harmless offense," said
"We will not tolerate the illegal harvest and sale of protected shark species whose populations continue to diminish in our oceans," said
The Lacey Act, enacted in 1900, is the first national wildlife law, and was passed to assist states in enforcing wildlife laws. It provides additional protection to fish, wildlife and plants that were taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of state, tribal, foreign or U.S. law.
Since 1993, the NOAA Fisheries Service has managed, via federal fishery management plans, the commercial harvest and sale of sharks in or from federal waters of the Atlantic Ocean,
"We are proud of the coordinated investigative work of our agents with their colleagues from NOAA, Office of Law Enforcement and the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations," said
Harrison is scheduled to be sentenced on
This case was investigated by Special Agents of the NOAA Office for Law Enforcement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement and the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations.
The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of
Editors Note: Huge kudos to all gov agencies involved.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Brought to you by a small handful of operators and self styled shark researchers who have yet to fully understand the negative impact of their actions on sharks.
While a growing industry chorus demands that Discovery Networks cease programming that harms the perception of sharks - we would like to propose a second action. Let's take a "hard look" at our own industry and individual members who enable productions like these.
Ironically we all know who are behind these productions, and many of those involved profess to love sharks. Some are even actively and recently engaged in shark conservation efforts.
To what end?
Folks, it's not Discovery Networks problem, they are just doing what they do because we allow them to do it. Let's stop booking the vessels that enable the productions, let's start calling out the operators who enable the access to these sharks.
Let's start by cleaning our own house.
Yes, we know, it's a radical and once again unpopular thought.
But then again this blog has never towed the company line. Ever.
Sometimes a well reasoned rant is what it takes:
By Daily News Online Editor Del Stone
Given that many of the world's species of sharks are threatened with extinction, it makes perfect sense for the Destin Fishing Rodeo to sponsor a Shark Saturday.
Who but a fool would pass up a chance to see a giant, bloody carcass hanging from a hook with its entrails slopping over the dock as a drunken carpet store manager from Birmingham mugs for the camera? It's enough to make Jerry Springer slap himself on the forehead and cry out, "Why didn't I think of that?"
But why stop at sharks? Mother Nature has blessed the Emerald Coast with a variety of endangered creatures that could be exploited for the money machine.
For instance, we have pesky sea turtles crawling up on our beaches at night to dig holes. Why, a drunken teenager looking for a quiet place to have sex could stumble over a turtle and poke an eye out with his crack pipe. Besides, sea turtles attract unsavory varmints like conservationists. Destin could sponsor a Sea Turtle Recipe Roundup. I'm saving room for the Mother Kemp's Omelet with a side order of snail darter poppers and a rasher of hash-browned beach mice.
And those nasty pelicans - the same birds that were almost wiped out by DDT a few years ago - are everywhere! They're eating our fish, getting caught in our nets, and ruining our view of the concrete monads lining the coast. Why not have a game for the kiddies - Whack-A-Pelican. At least it'll get them away from the Wii for a few minutes.
Red cockaded woodpeckers also have returned to the Gulf Coast in numbers sufficient to line the pockets of a canny entrepreneur. Sure, they're endangered. But they're also drilling holes into perfectly good trees that could be used to build new tanning salons.
Dipped in a rich, heart-clogging batter, fried and served on a stick, Pecker Pickers could be the perfect culinary accompaniment to a leisurely day spent browsing the tents of a local art festival where all the paintings depict a lonely pirate wading ashore on a forgotten beach, a gnarly foul-mouthed parrot perched on his shoulder, a treasure chest overflowing with gold doubloons resting in the foreground, an unwhacked pelican sailing on a gentle coastal breeze as beach mice scatter to avoid omelet-makers in the background and a shark prowls the emerald green waters looking for a carpet store manager from Birmingham.
And why not sponsor a Republican Roundup? In the Obamaverse, Republicans are as scarce as sharks but a lot more deadly. Imagine a Humpbacked Republican strung up by his heels snarling Rush Limbaugh dialectics to an angry crowd that probably would have voted for him two years ago. It's enough to make Mitt Romney convert to Unitarian Universalism.
Yes, the Destin Fishing Rodeo has many other options than a Shark Saturday - Sea Turtle Sunday, Manic Manatee Monday and Parking Lot Tern Tuesday, to name a few.
What's needed here is a clarity of vision ... and a total disregard for the natural world that makes our house a home.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Sparked by a disastrous attempt by a nascent operator to force commercial shark diving in the Hawaii Kai neighbourhood - the blow back has grown into a grassroots anti industry movement with sponsors in government.
In May a new anti shark diving website surfaced on the Internet highlighting many of the themes this blog has covered in the past year.
Safe Waters For Hawaii
Citing the Cyber Diver Network, a virulently anti shark diving website, this new endeavor seemingly legitimises the anti shark diving movement in Hawaii.
Media and More Media
The operators in Hawaii are now in a fight they never wanted or asked for. This fight will be won or lost in the media. As this blog has covered time and again, your operations media is all too important when it comes to the anti shark diving movement. Videos on You Tube and elsewhere can and will be used against your operation by these groups - as we are seeing with Safe Waters Hawaii.
The platform this site puts forward is illegal chumming. Without a doubt all operations in Hawaii have been caught "red handed" and should address and defuse this issue now. The public can be won or lost with a strong and sustained media campaign that is pro Hawaii, pro business and pro shark.
Allowing sites like Safe Waters For Hawaii free reign to set the tone of the discussion and to cite the Cyber Diver Network as a "definitive source" without mounting effective media countermeasures is a disaster in the making.
Safe Sharks For Hawaii's url was registered in Europe and is set to private so you cannot tell who is behind the site.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Todays news is a bit better:
Taipei, June 9 (CNA) A megamouth shark, one of the world's rarest species, was caught Monday by a fisherman from the eastern county of Taitung, marine biologists said Tuesday. According to National Taiwan Ocean University's Department of Environmental Biology and Fisheries Science, the shark is only the 42nd that has been caught or sighted worldwide and the ninth in Taiwan since the species was discovered in 1976.
The shark was 3.9 meter long, weighed 350 kilograms and its mouth when opened measured 75 centimeters across. It was netted off the county's Chenggong coast and was sold Tuesday for NT$18,000 (US$549) to a local shark museum where it will be displayed as a preserved specimen.
The fish was identified by a researcher surnamed Tien, from the Eastern Marine Biology Research Center under the Council of Agriculture's Fisheries Research Institute. Tien said the species is very unusual and that it was the first time in his career that he ever saw a megamouth shark.
Chen Wen-jung, the owner of the shark museum, said he has collected dozens of shark specimens but this was his first megamouth.
The last record of the species being spotted was in late March, when a 500-kilogram, 4-meter megamouth was caught off Burias Island in the Philippines.
The megamouth shark is so named because of its large mouth.
Sadly this is not a hypothetical stream of consciousness. This show actually happened, and yes they did cast "beer swilling, knuckle dragging rednecks".
Sit back and enjoy, "zero to psychotic in 30 seconds". The guy at the start of this clip reminds us of someone we know:
In another step towards becoming environment-friendly, the Maldivian government unveiled plans yesterday to designate three whale shark habitats in the Maldives as protected areas.
Protected areas are allocated Baa atoll Hanifaru, Baa atoll An'gafaru and Alif Dhaal atoll Maamigili as protected areas to commemorate World Environment Day and World Ocean Day on the 5 and 8 June respectively.
"We welcome the whale shark sanctuaries," said Ali Rilwan, executive director of environment NGO Bluepeace today. "We don't need paper parks, we need monitoring and more research in these areas." In March, the ministry of fisheries and agricultures extended the moratorium on reef shark fishing to cover the whole of the Maldives as part of a move towards a total ban on both reef and oceanic shark hunting.The main objective of the project was to protect the areas mega fauna, namely whale sharks, Manta rays.
Divided into various zones, in which different activities will be permitted. While diving and snorkeling would still be allowed, a set of guidelines would be provided to instruct on how to deal with encounters with whale sharks.
Further, boats including Liveaboards and dive boats will be subject to speed limits in certain areas, he said.
The reaction of local residents was "very positive". "They actively wanted this to happen and this won't impact any of their activities so they have nothing to lose from this," "That's the findings of the consultation."
The decision would have a "global significance" and the areas were among the few in the world where whale sharks could be spotted.
The polka-dotted whale shark is the largest fish on the planet, but very little is known about their existence, according to the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme's website.
While it is known they swim potentially vast distances across the ocean, eating only plankton, tiny fish and squid, how long they live or where they reproduce remains a mystery.
It was crucial to establish a set of guidelines to counter the impact that the growth of tourism would have on whale sharks in future years.
At present, it is estimated that whale shark excursions generate US$10 million annually.
According to researchers Maldives have spotted 115 whale sharks, although the real number was probably higher.
"Some of these areas are important feeding grounds," "And out of all of them, there are only two females, so the animals are only spending part of their lives here."
The designated areas would also protect other animal species such as manta rays in Hanifaru and Gray reef sharks and White tips reef sharks in Baa Atoll An'gafaru.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
“Sharks are arguably the most endangered group of animals in the world's oceans, a worrying fact given the critical role they play in structuring all marine ecosystems, including the coral reefs of The Bahamas,” says CEI shark researcher and SFMI advisor Edd Brooks, "In the face of this current crisis action is required on every level and the SFMI offers a collaborative way for fishermen and scientists to work together. We are not asking fishermen to stop fishing, only to release the shark as quickly and cleanly as possible."
The Bahamas is home to abundant shark populations where worldwide their numbers are declining. Shark tourism is a crucial component of attracting visitors to the area who bring in $6,000,000 annually to view sharks. A single Caribbean reef shark is estimated to bring in $13,300-$40,000 annually from tourism, with a possible high of $200,000 over the course of the shark’s lifetime. The value of the same shark killed is estimated at $50-$60 when brought to market or nothing if just a photo is taken. SFMI promotes making sharks and their habitats the focus of research, education, and adequate conservation strategies to sustain shark populations, as well as the tourism industry.
The Cape Eleuthera Institute is partnering with nearby Cape Eleuthera Resort & Yacht Club to support this movement to protect an invaluable marine species. “Our surrounding waters and marine life are the Cape’s greatest asset and as a resort we will support every effort to protect this vibrant environment for future generations,” notes Stephen Kappeler, general manager of Cape Eleuthera Resort & Yacht Club. “Becoming a Shark-Free Marina will help us inform visiting anglers to catch and release sharks instead of destroying this crucial member of the ocean ecosystem.”
Visit www.sharkfreemarina.com to register your marina or find out more about the Shark-Free Marina Initiative. Go online for additional information about the Cape Eleuthera Institute www.ceibahamas.org and Cape Eleuthera Resort & Yacht Club www.capeeleuthera.com.
The GEERG anti-shark cage will be in Montreal and scuba divers will have a chance to experience the feeling of being in the cage.
The GEERG cage will be at Total Diving’s annual picnic at Kahnawake Quarry on June 20, 2009. Scuba divers will be invited to go in and get an idea of what’s it’s like to observe sharks from behind bars.
This cage will be used, later this Summer, for a National Geographic documentary on the Greenland shark.
GEERG is the Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research Group. It’s mission is to study the Greenland shark and other Canadian shark species in their natural environment. GEERG Director Jeffrey Gallant will be with us on June 20 to answer all of your questions. Jeffrey is also the Executive-at-Large of the Canadian Association for Underwater Science.
Total Diving is a scuba diving school in Montreal, QC, Canada.
Total Diving’s annual scuba diving picnic, is a family event to celebrate the beginning of the 2009 diving season in Montreal. During this event, divers have a chance to try all kind of underwater toys at no charge, with a Total Diving dive professional on site to help them. For instance, besides the GEERG shark cage, there will be a complete underwater communication system with full face masks for 2 divers and a surface station, a vehicle recovery system, a hybrid between a dive mask and a dive computer, and a whole lot of gear from Atomic and Bare.
This year’s picnic will be held at the Kahnawake Quarry on the Southshore of Montreal. This quarry is just, now, being re-opened to scuba divers.
Recreational fishermen in California are well aware of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative, an ongoing and controversial stakeholder-driven process that is working to put in place a vast network of marine protected areas, including no-fishing zones, along the coast.
But many probably have not heard of the fledgling Shark-Free Marina Initiative, which recently launched a campaign to try to prohibit the landing of sharks in marinas around the world.
The SFMI figures to receive more angler support than the MLPAI, but there will be veteran shark anglers who oppose such meddling.
The SFMI is a response by shark conservationists to the perilous plight most species of sharks face because of rampant overfishing on a global scale, commercially.
"Although the number of sharks killed by recreational fishermen each year is dwarfed by commercial catches, the current crisis facing shark stocks requires action wherever possible," Edd Brooks, a scientist on the SFMI advisory board, said in a news release. "We are not asking fishermen to stop fishing, only asking them to start releasing their catch."
It's a worthy endeavor. Killing sharks for sport is increasingly unpopular and harmful to the marine environment. It's worse than killing marlin and other billfish because sharks are so slow to reproduce.
Luke Tipple, director of the SFMI, said there are only six cooperating marinas -- it began with two marinas in the Bahamas -- but six others have registered and recruitment drives are planned for Florida and California. Essentially, cooperating marinas, which can register on the SFMI website, obtain signage and literature that cautions in bright-red lettering that bringing dead sharks back to port won't be tolerated.
It will be interesting to see whether this will catch on and what kind of reaction it garners.
-- Pete Thomas
The End of the Line, the first major feature documentary film revealing the impact of overfishing on our oceans, had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in the World Cinema Documentary Competition. Sundance took place in Park City, Utah, January 15-25, 2009.
In the film we see firsthand the effects of our global love affair with fish as food.
It examines the imminent extinction of bluefin tuna, brought on by increasing western demand for sushi; the impact on marine life resulting in huge overpopulation of jellyfish; and the profound implications of a future world with no fish that would bring certain mass starvation.
Filmed over two years, The End of the Line follows the investigative reporter Charles Clover as he confronts politicians and celebrity restaurateurs, who exhibit little regard for the damage they are doing to the oceans.
One of his allies is the former tuna farmer turned whistleblower Roberto Mielgo – on the trail of those destroying the world's magnificent bluefin tuna population.
Filmed across the world – from the Straits of Gibraltar to the coasts of Senegal and Alaska to the Tokyo fish market – featuring top scientists, indigenous fishermen and fisheries enforcement officials, The End of the Line is a wake-up call to the world.
Monday, June 8, 2009
If you're Paul Semmens
you jump in and go meet the critter face to face.
No, Paul is not mad, he's a just a "shark guy". There's no rhyme or reason for wanting to dive with a 30 foot Basking shark except for the joy of the "moment":
Photographer Paul Semmens captured images of the shark from the ferry The Scillonian which runs between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly as it fed close to the surface on plankton.
The size of the creature is revealed by the distance from the dorsal fin to the tail fin which is half its total length.
"It was around seven metres - over 30-ft long - a big one - but they do get bigger," Mr Semmens said. "June is often a good month to see basking sharks because the sea has warmed up and the algal blooms which they feed on are growing.
"I've seen over 20 of them off Cornwall recently - which is an average number. A couple of years ago there were over 300 spotted in one day which was a record."
To help promote our collective ocean conservation message on and around World Oceans Day, we urge our Partners to "Wear Blue and Tell Two."
Beginning this year we can all start to associate the color blue with World Oceans Day. This event has been unofficially celebrated for more than a dozen years but this year marks the inaugural World Oceans Day, officially recognized by United Nations resolution as June 8th each year.
Naturally you do not shoot the entirety of the South Pacific without a visit with sharks - and the good folks over at Beqa Adventure Divers provided the site, animals, and adventure for this crew.
South Pacific is currently airing in the U.K in an 8 part series to rave reviews.
Keep your eyes open for this glorious piece of underwater eye candy as it makes the rounds to a high definition, 80 inch flat screen, with surround sound, near you.
If you have been waiting to acquire an 80 inch flat screen consider this fair warning. Kudos again to BAD for being involved in this shoot.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
How often do you get to say that you are doing something good by drinking? Well, up through World Oceans Day on June 8th (yes, I only just found out about this) , Shark Trust Wines will be donating 30% of your total purchase to The Ocean Project, the world’s most extensive network for advancing ocean education and action. All you have to do is type TOP into the coupon code. Of course, you probably want to donate as much money as possible to The Ocean Project, so you should probably stockpile up on wines. At $10 a bottle, that won’t be hard!
Your options are:
- SIX GILL Syrah
- REEF SHARK Red
- WHALE SHARK Chenin
- GREAT WHITE Chardonnay
Any other time, Shark Trust Wines donate 10% of profits to organizations that deal with shark conservation and research. Included on the list are the National Aquarium, Georgia Aquarium, Florida Aquarium, Shedd Aquarium and Mote Marine Laboratory. So drink up! (Like you needed an excuse to pour yourself a good glass of wine…)