Cape Eleuthera, The Bahamas —To combat the unnecessary killing of sharks, The Shark-Free Marina Initiative (SFMI) launched last month with support from researchers and marinas around the world. The Cape Eleuthera Institute's (CEI) Shark Program, led by Edd Brooks, is now an advisor to the initiative. This project works to reduce the worldwide shark mortality by prohibiting the landing of any caught shark at a participating marina. To encourage support from the fishing industry, the initiative promotes catch-and-release practices to collect data and return sharks to their natural habitat unharmed.
“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.