Tuesday, October 18, 2011

USA Today Shark-Free Marinas 2011

The revolution continues with 110 marinas now signed up to be Shark-Free and growing. 

Not mentioned in this article are the many folks world wide who became early adopters of the Shark-Free Marinas Initiative along with the fine folks from Fiji who saw this initiative and adopted it, creating the first actual Shark-Free Marinas in the world back in 2009.

Additionally kudos to Old Bahama Bay Marina in the Bahamas who went Shark-Free in 2010.

Less than two years after its creation, SharkFreeMarinas.com lists more than 110 marinas and businesses from eight countries — including 78 in the USA— as either shark-free or shark-friendly.

The initiative, organized by the Humane Society of the United States, the animal-welfare grantor Pegasus Foundation and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, which raises funds for marine-conservation research, works to persuade marinas to either refuse to allow sharks to be landed at their docks or to discourage the recreational killing of sharks. Marinas are registered as shark-free in the first case, shark-friendly in the second.

"This is a way to help the shark population, to save species of fish in our waters," said Tibe Larson, manager of shark-free Bonita Bay Marina in Bonita Springs, Fla.

Bob Hueter, a shark specialist at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Fla., which supports the initiative, said he's not against bringing a shark in once in a while for food. "I've published recipes for shark," he said. But, "too often," Hueter adds, "people bring a shark in, hang it up to show it off, maybe take the jaws, and then dump it."

Without a place to show off a dead shark, fishers are more likely to practice catch-and-release, he said.

"We used to fish for sharks, but I got out of that business close to 20 years ago, when it occurred to me that sharks were being depleted," said Phil Lobred, general manager and partner at H&M Landing, a shark-free sport-fishing landing in San Diego. "Usually, it's the younger crowd who wants to say they caught a shark: It's a macho kind of thing," he said.

In its most recent study on shark depletion, the National Marine Fisheries Service said that recreational fishermen along USA's Atlantic and Gulf coasts killed more than 200,000 sharks per year from 2004 through 2008.

SharkFreeMarinas.com members get signs with their shark-free or shark-friendly status, free ads on the initiative's website and educational literature.

Initiative director Luke Tipple, an Australian marine biologist and TV personality, said he doesn't expect the program to stop the recreational harvesting of sharks. However, he said he thinks it can have a positive impact on an important segment of the shark population: big breeding adults that trophy hunters target.

"They are selectively removing sharks that can contribute to the recovery of their species," Tipple said. "It's not how many sharks we save. It's how many we can protect."
Contributing: Lollar and Ruane also report for The News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla.