Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Youth Ambassador Profile: Dahlia Hassell

Dahlia and Shark Stanley go for a swim
As Shark Stanley circles the globe he comes across young people who are working to save sharks. These Youth Ambassadors inspire the rest of us, old and young alike, to take action to make changes in our own backyards.

Dahlia Hassell was raised on the small Dutch Caribbean island of Saba. From childhood, she participated in the after school environmental awareness programs of the Saba Conservation Foundation, where she developed her passion for protecting nature. In college, she majored in Biology and then returned to Saba to work as a Saba Bank Park Officer where she continues to help preserve the underwater environment.

All of the Youth Ambassadors are asked the same set of four questions. Here's what Dahlia had to say:

When and how did you first become interested in sharks?
I first became interested in sharks when the Saba Conservation team and I saved a baby nurse shark from a ghost trap. After that, I was hooked on learning more about sharks!

How are you working to help save the world’s sharks?
Through education in the primary and secondary schools, I am able to teach the children that sharks are not killing machines, and are desperately needed in our waters.

Who are your conservation heroes?
Susan Hurrell, Past Education Officer at the Saba Conservation Foundation; Lynn Costenaro, Founder of Sea & Learn in Saba; and Dr. Sylvia Earle.

How would you suggest other people get involved in the protection of sharks?
-Help spread awareness of the preservation of sharks through social media, education, and personal conversations.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Shark Stanley promotes global shark awareness in Turks & Caicos

Shark Defender Tina Randall with Shark Stanley and some students in the Turks & Caicos Islands
Local environmental advocates are working with animated sea character Shark Stanley to reach out to schools and businesses to increase awareness of shark conservation.

Shark Stanley is the face of the global shark awareness campaign dedicated to creating shark sanctuaries and supporting the proper management of sharks and rays.

Stanley has been busy visiting schools and appearing at community events to take ‘selfies’ with children and adults.

The character has been to the Oseta Jolly Primary School, Edward Gartland Youth Centre, and others educating why sharks are important to TCI and why people should care about their conservation.

Shark Stanley is the face of the global shark awareness campaign dedicated to creating shark sanctuaries and supporting the proper management of sharks and rays.

To learn more about Stanley and his cause, people can visit or the Facebook page Caribbean Shark Defenders.

To date, ten other countries and oversea territories have stepped up for sharks and created permanent protection.

Source: TC Weekly News

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sharks4Kids Event Celebrates Bahamas Launch of Shark Stanley

Shark Stanley, the friendly cartoon hammerhead shark, landed in Bimini on April 16 at Gateway Christian Academy for the official Bahamas launch of the children’s book The Adventures of Shark Stanley & Friends. Shark Stanley is a global ambassador for shark conservation and the main character in the science-based children’s book.

In conjunction with the Florida based global nonprofit Sharks4Kids, the Shark Stanley launch event included a shark lesson for the students, as well as a reading of the book to mark the official Bahamas launch of the Shark Stanley campaign. Sharks4Kids founders Jillian Morris and Duncan Brake taught the kids about sharks, specifically how scientists learn about them and why they are critically important for not only the Bahamas, but the oceans of the world.

The book, which was created in partnership with the United States-based The Pew Charitable Trusts, uses scientific and economic research about the importance of sharks to marine ecosystems, tourism, and food security in a format that is fun and accessible to young people. The accompanying social media campaign involves taking photos while holding a cutout of Shark Stanley or one of his 17 shark species friends and posting the pictures to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #SharkStanley, linking a global network of conservation-minded youth.

“We were thrilled to work with students in Bimini, home to some of the most amazing shark diving in the world,” said Sharks4Kids co-founder Jillian Morris. “We really want the students to be excited about what’s in their own backyard and also take pride in their country’s shark sanctuary. The islands of Bimini are very small, but with the shark sanctuary, shark eco-tourism and the Bimini Biological Field Station, they are really setting a global standard for protecting sharks!”

The goal of Sharks4Kids is to create the next generation of shark advocates through education, outreach and adventure. The website provides students and teachers access to a dynamic range of educational materials and experiences. Curriculum, games and activities allow teachers to integrate shark education into their science programs on an introductory, intermediate or advanced level. Students can access games, activities and info sheets to satisfy their own curiosity about sharks. Classroom visits, student snorkeling trips and shark-tagging expeditions also provide hands-on experiences in the world of shark science and conservation. Sharks4Kids believes kids can make a difference and their goal is to inspire and empower them to do so.

“Sharks are in trouble in nearly every corner of the planet and the Shark Stanley campaign is an opportunity to educate the world’s youth about the plight of sharks and their importance to the oceans,” said Leah Meth, co-author of The Adventures of Shark Stanley & Friends. “Shark Stanley unites the youth of the world and we’re so thrilled to see his conservation message arrive in the Bahamas.”

Approximately 100 hundred million sharks are killed annually in commercial fisheries and scientific research shows that 30 percent of known shark species assessed by scientists are threatened with extinction. Continued declines in shark populations jeopardize the important role sharks play maintaining the health of the entire ocean. Many species of sharks are top predators, and they regulate the variety and abundance of species in the food web, including commercially important fish species. Sharks also help to maintain healthy marine habitats, such as coral reefs. Additionally, sharks are a favorite species for many SCUBA divers to see, making their presence equally critical to the tourism industry. The Bahamas proved to be a leader in shark conservation in the Caribbean by passing legislation that designated the country’s full EEZ a shark sanctuary in 2011.

The Bimini event on April 16 is one of 10 global Shark Stanley launches happening all over the world during the month of April, including events in Grenada, China, Fiji, Samoa, Canada, the United States, Turks and Caicos Islands, Hong Kong, and the Philippines.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Palau Marine Sanctuary Gaining Momentum

We've been following the Palau news closely for news of the operator that took the shark selfies (found this story in Tia Belau) and found that there are other great environmental initiatives taking place besides sharks.

The proposal for a fully protected marine reserve in Palau is moving closer to reality. The Island Times, a local newspaper, reports that there is near unanimous support with the country's 16 popularly elected governors.
15 Of 16 Governors Support Palau Marine Sanctuary
‘Immediate action needed to address declining fish stocks’

Fifteen of sixteen governors in this island nation are backing the plan to create a National Marine Sanctuary.

In their letter to President Remengesau dated January 26, 2015, the governors said the proposed marine sanctuary will be good for the people of Palau and all sixteen states.

The letter was signed by Governors Temmy Shmull of Peleliu, Leilani Reklai of Aimeliik, Browny Salvador of Ngarchelong, Jeffrey Titiml of Kayangel, Aloysius Tellei of Melekeok, Ellender Ngirameketii of Ngiwal, Duane Hideo of Ngchesar, Wilson Ongos of Ngaremlengui, Renguul Masahiro of Ngardmau, Tmewang Rengulbai of Airai, Isaac Bai of Ngaraard, Jersey Iyar of Ngatpang, Marvin Ngirutang of Angaur, and Thomas Patris of Hatohobei.

Then Governor Jacob Yangilmau of Sonsorol also signed the letter. Yangilmau, who resigned from office in February of this year, was replaced by Lieutenant Governor Damien Albis, who is believed to be supportive of the sanctuary plan.

“He is hedging,” said a person with intimate knowledge of the issue. Island Times was not able to get Adachi’s reason for opposing such initiative as of press time.

The Governors said in their letter noted the acute problem of dwindling fish resources.

“There is no doubt that over the years we have seen fewer and fewer fish in our state waters. At the same time we have seen an increase in fish prices at the local fish markets. This has forced our people to rely on imported and less healthy foods that are cheaper to feed their families with. The preservation of our culture and our health required that we take steps to increase our fish stocks and thereby lower prices of fish for our citizens,” they stated.

The Governors said immediate action is needed to address declining fish stocks.

“While we understand that the Sanctuary does not cover our state waters, we do believe that the health of the Ocean in our state waters is being threatened. Moreover, our traditions taught us that we must respect the Ocean and take action to temporarily stop fishing if there are signs that fish stocks are under threat. Clearly our fish stocks are under threat,” they added.

“The Marine Sanctuary will therefore help replenish our Oceans while making more fish available for locals. It makes sense both environmentally and economically. Moreover, under new legislation funding to the states will not be reduced; in fact under existing treaties and through enhanced tourism like catch and release fishing, our state revenues could actually increase. Therefore, we collectively express our unconditional support to the proposed Marine Sanctuary legislation pending in the National Congress,” they further stated.

The proposal on the National Marine Sanctuary put forward by President Remengesau includes a complete prohibition on purse seine fishing that covers 100 percent of the EEZ; a no-take Marine Sanctuary that covers over 80 percent of the Palau EEZ; a highly regulated Fishing Zone that covers approximately 20 percent of the EEZ that will provide for only Palau’s domestic fishing needs; and a prohibition on commercial fish exports.

The proposal to create a Palau National Marine Sanctuary has been introduced and pending in the Senate as Senate Bill No. 9-30.

The plan is also backed by the Palau Chamber of Commerce, Council of Chiefs, state legislatures, Belau Boaters Association, Palau Sports Fishing Association, Northern Reef Fisheries Alliance, Ocean Elders (comprised of many prominent international figures like Queen Noor of Jordan, Prince Albert of Monaco, CNN founder Ted Turner and others), National Geographic, RMI President Christopher Loeak, and many others.
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