|Rob Stewart and Shawn Heinrichs on Saipan with local conservationists.|
To my friends in Saipan, Guam, and the United States of America:You can help Rob protect sharks by signing the petitions of the Pew Charitable Trusts and Oceana. We are also compiling letters and will ensure that they are received by the right people. The official announcement in the Federal Register contains instructions on how to submit your letter using an online form, fax, or mail, but we encourage you to send us a copy of your letter at email@example.com. If you need help, we can send you talking points. You can also use some of the information found on the Pew Charitable Trusts petition or our previous blog on this issue.
I am disappointed that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has proposed language in rules implementing the Shark Conservation Act that would overturn hard fought shark protection measures in the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and other states and territories.
The story of the passage of the law in the Northern Mariana Islands is a highlight of my new film Revolution, so believe me when I say that your stories have inspired the world because I have seen it firsthand. You may be disappointed in this dark hour, but I hope I can offer some encouragement.
Your stories inspire because there was no guarantee you would win. Saipan was only the second place in the world to ban shark fins. Guam was only the third. And you worked hard for those wins. You wrote letters. You signed petitions. You met with lawmakers and begged your governors for their support. And it worked. The world is beginning to follow your lead.
And now you have to work again to protect your sharks. Now is not the time to backtrack on progress. It won’t be easy and there is no guarantee you will win, but I expect you to give it your all.
The federal government is accepting comments on their proposed rule until July 9. Go write some letters. Sign a petition. Contact your leaders. Many of you are voters now. Make your voice heard.
The last time you rose up to protect sharks you overcame the opposition of those who think sharks only have value in a bowl of soup. I believe you can do it again.