Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Destin Florida - Shark Tournament Poll

Shark conservation efforts often come from unusual sources. This month the Destin Log in Destin, Florida

Last week Shark Free Marinas Initiative Director, Luke Tipple was asked to write an Op Ed concerning Destins planned shark kill tournament in October.

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.

Shark Conservation Film - Requiem


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"

Captain Wade Osborne - Afishionado Radio on Shark Free Marinas

In a recent conversation with Captain Wade Osborne, host of the radio show Afishionado and supporter of the Shark-Free Marinas, SFMI Director Luke Tipple discussed the role of the media in ‘hyping’ shark kills.

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

Shark Free Marinas - Op Ed Luke Tipple

The Destin Log asked Shark Free Marinas Initiative Director, Luke Tipple to weigh in on Destin, Florida's Shark Saturday events.

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

Image:Todd Cameron