Thursday, September 29, 2011

La Réunion: "opération ciblée" d'élimination de requins après des attaques

SAINT-DENIS-DE-LA REUNION, 26 septembre 2011 (AFP) - Le préfet de la Réunion Michel Lalande a annoncé lundi l’élimination dès cette semaine d’une dizaine de squales appartenant aux espèces les plus dangereuses à l’origine de quatre attaques, dont deux mortelles, contre des surfeurs depuis le début de l’année.

Ces éliminations s'intègrent dans une vaste stratégie de réduction du risque requins "équilibrée et concertée", a précisé le préfet.

"Le risque requin est un risque endémique à la Réunion et touche tous les pays baignés de mer chaude", a rappelé M. Lalande.

Entre 1980 et 2010, 32 attaques ont été enregistrées sur les côtes réunionnaises dont 14 mortelles. La dernière s’est produite le 19 septembre à Saint-Gilles où un moniteur de surf, Mathieu Schiller, 32 ans, a été happé par un requin à une vingtaine de mètres de la plage, suscitant une vive émotion et un début de polémique sur l’absence de mesures de sécurisation.

Malgré plusieurs jours de recherche à l’aide d’importants moyens, son corps n’a pas été retrouvé.

Jugeant "exceptionnelle et difficilement explicable" la concentration d’attaques de requins à Saint-Gilles, la zone la plus touristique de l’île, le préfet a annoncé la mise en place d’une stratégie de réduction de risques à court et long terme.

La mesure la plus spectaculaire consistera en une "opération ciblée" d’élimination de requins bouledogue et tigre, jugés responsables de la majorité des attaques enregistrées dans l’île.

Ces deux espèces ne sont pas protégées par la réglementation française mais considérées comme "quasi-menacées" dans le classement de l’Union Internationale pour la Conservation de la Nature (UICN).

Au total dix spécimens seront capturés par deux pêcheurs professionnels sur trois jours pendant lesquels les activités nautiques et de baignade seront interdites. "Il s’agit des requins qui se seraient sédentarisés. Il faut créer un trouble dans cette population", a déclaré le préfet.

La Fondation Brigitte Bardot a déploré une décision "démesurée". "De quel droit nous permettons-nous d’envahir tous les milieux en faisant le ménage de tout ce qui peut représenter un danger pour l’homme ?", dénonce la Fondation dans une lettre au préfet.

L’opération de capture sera complétée par des moyens de prévention sur la commune de Saint-Paul, dont dépend la plage de Saint-Gilles. Trois mesures de long terme, dont le lancement de deux études scientifiques, ont également été annoncées.

Le préfet a toutefois rappelé qu’"il n’y a pas et qu’il n’y aura jamais de risque zéro" soulignant que les "activités de pleine mer présentent un risque réel et sérieux que chacun doit assumer, quelles que soient les mesures prises".

Le week-end prochain, lors d’une compétition de surf, la ligue locale a prévu la présence de scaphandriers, de bateaux, de jet-skis ainsi que des plongeurs pour signaler toute présence de requins.

Printed in Tahiti Infos on Tuesday, September 26, 2011

English Translation:

The head of the French overseas department of Reunion Island announced on Monday the authorization to kill dozens of sharks belonging to the most dangerous species. These species have been responsible for 4 attacks (including 2 lethal) against surfers since the beginning of the year.

This decision is part of a vast strategy to reduce the "shark risk" and has been taken after discussion with the local mayors.
The "shark risk" is endemic to Reunion island and all warm ocean countries are facing it.

Between 1980 and 2010, 32 attacks were recorded on the island's coast, including 14 deaths. The last one occured on 19th September where a surf instructor, Mathieu Schiller, 32, got caught by a shark, 20 meters away from the beach. This triggered emotion and the start of a controversy on the absence of local safety measures.

Despite important measures to find the body, Mathieu Schiller is still missing.

This "exceptional and hardly explainable" shark concentration on the most popular beach of the island, the Prefet, head of the department, announced thestrategy to reduce short and long term risks.

The most spectacular measure will consist in a "targeted operation" to eliminate bull and tiger sharks held responsible for the majority of the attacks recorded around the island.

These two species are not protected by French law but assessed as "near threatened" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

In total, 10 sharks will be killed by professional fishermen over a 3 day period during which all water activities will be prohibited in the area. "These sharks have settled in the area. We are targeting at creating confusion in this shark population" said the Prefet.

The Brigitte Bardot foundation stated that the measures were disproportionate. "How can we invade all areas clearing all those representating a threat to Man?", says the letter sent to the Prefet by the Foundation.

These prevention operation will be completed in the town of Saint Paul where the Saint Gilles beach is located. 3 long term measures, including the launch of a couple of scientific studies, have also been announced.

The Prefet reminded though that a "zero" risk did not exist emphasizing that open ocean activities represent a serious risk whatever prevention measures are taken.

Next weekend, during a surf competition, the local surf league has planned to have scuba divers, boats and jet skis patrolling to spot sharks in order to prevent an attack.

Translation courtesy of Tahiti Private Expeditions

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Photo of Barack Obama on a skateboard with nunchaku jumping over a shark while dodging an exploding helicopter

This is what happens when you search Google to see if any websites have written about your shark petition on the White House's We The People website: You find a picture of Barack Obama on a skateboard with nunchaku jumping over a shark while dodging an exploding helicopter.

It turns out a blog on the New York times mentions our petition.  And other than some comments on some smaller blogs and some Facebook posts, that's about it...

As of now we have about half of the requisite 5,000 signatures.  If you haven't yet, please take a moment to sign and share the petition with your friends and family.  We have until October 22 to get the remaining signatures, but it would be nice to have it sooner than that.  Even though we weren't the first to reach 5,000, perhaps our petition can be the first that gets a response?

(Photo courtesy of the Whoa!)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Fiji Times: Fin it Off the Menu

Whitetip reef shark.  Photo: Angelo Villagomez
SHARKMAN Manoa Rasigatale moved an inch close to his dream - thanks to Chinese basketball superstar Yao Ming.

The recently-retired NBA giant has joined the worldwide campaign against the shark fin trade, which has pushed the ancient species to the brink of extinction.

Yao's decision is a big boost for campaigners such as the Sharkman, who is lobbying for legislation to ban the fishing of sharks in Fiji's waters.

Like the move in California to remove shark fin soup off the menu, Yao wants his fellow countrymen to stop eating this top-of-the-range dish.

After the fins are sliced off, sharks are discarded back into the ocean. Their speed diminished, maneuverability affected, they sink to the bottom where they are condemned to a slow, agonising death.

"Oqo na mate vakaloloma (this is such a pitiful death)," says Rasigatale.

"It is so sad that Fijian fishermen who are in this trade have forgotten our special relationship with the sharks.

"It is our duty to protect them just as they protect us by safeguarding the reef, which is the life of the sea and us living in the islands.

"Our forefathers protected the sharks, it is our duty to do likewise."

Shark fins from Fiji are flown to Hong Kong and transported to restaurants across mainland China and Taiwan.

Despite growing calls to ban the trade and consumption of shark fin products, demand in China has been growing rapidly as the economy booms.

1.5 million sharks are slaughtered every week to cater for this demand.

The PEW Environment Group, in conjunction with the Coral Alliance, appointed Rasigatale to create awareness, help stop the slaughter in Fiji's waters and cut off supply to the Chinese market.

Delicacies ù such as shark fin, abalone and rare birds ù are staples for a luxurious banquet in this country.

It is common practice in wealthy circles to give money in red envelopes as wedding gifts and the new couples, in return, try to provide a banquet worth the value of the large amount of money they received. They do this by serving expensive cuisine.

Some Chinese believe eating such delicacies bring long life.

Rasigatale says there is nothing nutritious in shark fin soup, "just cartilage".

In Shanghai on Thursday, Yao and British tycoon Richard Branson joined forces to get shark fin off the menu.

"Few people know the importance of sharks in maintaining the ecological balance," Yao was quoted as saying by the China Daily at the launch of the campaign.

"Nor do they realise the cruelty of the finning process.

"There is no reasonable explanation for this cruelty."

The Shanghai campaign, sponsored by conservation group WildAid, is the first high-profile-led one in marine conservation in China.

Branson told the China Daily shark fin soup was just a tradition in China.

"Those who eat shark fin soup told me they don't particularly like it," Branson, president of Virgin Atlantic Airlines, said.

"It's possible to get people to switch to other food and make the soup unfashionable."

Pacific island journalists who are part of a delegation touring China say the island region must do more to protect the ocean and its resources for their future generations.

Solomon Islander Johnson Honimae, who now works in Suva, said his people of Malaita have a special bond with the sharks.

"We don't eat sharks because they protect us," he said.

"There is some work being done to protect the ocean in the Solomons but there is more to be done."

Papua New Guinea journalist Peter Pusal said Pacific islanders need to be aware of the dangers they face if the sharks disappeared.

"Our children need to understand what they mean to the marine life cycle and we need to make sure there is legislation to ensure the survival of sharks.

"We don't eat sharks back home."

During this tour of China, he and his colleagues are wary being served shark fin soup when attending banquets.

Wu Qi, a white-collar worker in Shanghai, is planning her wedding for later this year.

"We booked the 5888 yuan per table banquet and shark fin soup is listed in all three protential menus."

Wu and her fianceé convinced their parents to serve sea cucumber, which is also exported to China from Fiji, instead.

They said their friends would be concerned about the environmental effect, especially as one of them works for Greenpeace.

A survey by the China Daily showed that some restaurants and hotels, such as the URBN Hotel Shanghai, where Yao and Branson launched the campaign, stopped serving shark fin soup.

The Dragon Hotel, a five-star hotel in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, announced it had stopped serving shark fin dishes from September 19.

It said more than 30 shark fin dishes were removed from the menu - at a big cost.

Its revenue is expected to drop by six million yuan a year.

Jin Ding Xuan, a Cantonese seafood restaurant chain in Beijing, has gone a step further by stopping all sales of live seafood from last October.

For Rasigatale, this will mean good news.

If the market diminishes, so too will the supply.

His mission is to ensure laws are in place in Fiji to ensure shark sanctuaries for his grinny, razor-sharp toothy friends of the deep.

He won't be able to easily change the appetite of the hard-to-convince Chinese. But if Yao can make a yard, so too the Sharkman.

"My job is to help deny them the shark. And my country must help."

Published in The Fiji Times on Monday, September 25, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mexico to ban Shark Fishing in 2012

H.E. Mrs. Yanerit Morgan, Deputy Permanent Representative of Mexico announced Mexico's intention to declare a moratorium on the hunting of sharks and stingrays in national waters, in order to protect the dwindling population of these species in the world.  Photo: Pew Environment Group
This week at the United Nations, 8 nations pledged to ban shark fishing and create shark sanctuaries. The New York Times carries the story:
Mexico Will Ban Shark Fishing as Global Sanctuary Movement Grows
By NATHANIAL GRONEWOLD of Greenwire
Published: September 23, 2011

UNITED NATIONS -- Mexico announced here plans yesterday to ban shark and stingray fishing starting next year, creating what would be the largest initiative by one nation to protect shark species.

[snip]

Conservationists estimate that about 73 million sharks are slaughtered each year mainly for acquiring their fins, and they fear that the uncontrolled and illegal fishing of sharks will drive 30 percent of shark species to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's classification of threatened or near threatened with extinction.

"I think that's a tremendous development," said Matt Rand, director of global shark conservation at the Pew Environment Group. "Mexico is a big fishing nation, it's a very important nation globally, and that's a tremendous statement that was made."

There are currently about five national shark sanctuaries. And more are on the way.

A representative from the Federated States of Micronesia said his nation would likely announce a new shark sanctuary soon. Palau was the first state to establish a sanctuary when President Johnson Toribiong declared his nation's seas and EEZ off-limits to shark fishing.

The Maldives in the Indian Ocean has since followed suit, along with the Marshall Islands. Representatives of Honduras and Colombia were also present when Mexico made its announcement, and those two states say they are pursuing similar initiatives, including a possible protective corridor for sharks stretching from Colombia's Pacific coast to the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador.

[snip]

California recently announced a ban on shark fin sales, Pew's Rand said, and it has being followed by Washington state, Oregon, Hawaii and the U.S. territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
This is excellent news. Congratulations and thanks you to the governments and people of Mexico, The Bahamas, Palau, Maldives, Honduras, Colombia, Micronesia, and Marshall Islands for pledging and working to protect sharks.

It is about time the United States also took a stronger stand for shark protections. Shark Defenders has started a petition on the White House's We The People website asking President Barack Obama to "ban the sale, trade, and possession of shark and shark products, including shark fin."

In the first two days nearly 1,000 people have signed the petition. When it reaches 5,000, the Obama Administration will issue a response.

Please take a few minutes to sign the petition here.

The website is slow and it takes a little bit longer than most petitions sites to sign, but this petition goes directly to the White House and we are guaranteed a response if we meet the threshold of 5,000 signatures by October 22, 2011.

Again, the url is http://www.wh.gov/gWs

Please take a few minutes to sign.

México prohibiría caza de tiburón en 2012

Tiburón toro. Foto: Angelo Villagomez
El gobierno de México anunció su intención de declarar en 2012 una moratoria a la caza de tiburones y mantarrayas en aguas nacionales, con objeto de proteger la decreciente población de estas especies en el mundo.

La embajadora alterna de México ante Naciones Unidas (ONU), Yanerit Morgan, dijo que México pretende proteger a dichas especies mediante una moratoria que entraría en vigor el próximo año.

En un evento organizado por la delegación de Palau y de Honduras ante la ONU con objeto de declarar un mayor número de santuarios para el tiburón y las mantarrayas, Morgan explicó que la moratoria tendría validez en el Océano Pacífico, el Mar Caribe y el Golfo de México.

La diplomática informó además que el gobierno mexicano promovería de alternativas laborales para la población que depende económicamente de la caza de las especies que se propone proteger.

El anuncio de México se sumó al que hicieron Bahamas, Colombia, Maldivas, las islas Marshall y Micronesia para adherirse a los esfuerzos de Honduras y Palau para proteger al tiburón y a las mantarrayas en el mundo.

Numerosos estudios han documentado los profundos declives en la población de tiburones, en tanto que la ONU ha estimado que la mitad de las especies altamente migratorias de este pez están sobreexplotadas o al borde de la extinción.

Se calcula que hasta 73 millones de tiburones mueren cada año, principalmente para abastecer el mercado de la aleta de esta especie marina.

Actualmente, los tiburones gozan de santuarios de 2.7 millones de kilómetros cuadrados, a los que se sumarían seis millones de kilómetros cuadrados de áreas protegidas según los compromisos que se anunciaron.

Published in Azteca Noticias on Friday, September 23, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

World Leaders Commit to Shark Conservation

LEADERS LAUNCH NEW SHARK CONSERVATION EFFORT
Bahamas, Colombia, Honduras, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Micronesia, and Palau Commit to More Sanctuaries; International Action

NEW YORK (Sept. 22, 2011)—Leaders from eight countries launched an initiative today to prevent the extinction of sharks, symbolizing the latest development in the growing movement to safeguard the ocean’s top predator. Members of the coalition committed to a declaration supporting the development of sanctuaries that end commercial shark fishing in their national waters.

This announcement comes just one year after President Johnson Toribiong of Palau and President Porfirio Lobo Sosa of Honduras issued a global challenge to protect dwindling shark species. Several countries, states and territories have answered that call by committing to a range of conservation policies. This year, Honduras, the Bahamas, the Maldives and Tokelau have created sanctuaries for sharks off their shores, and the countries of Micronesia committed to establishing them in their waters.

Commercial fishing of these animals is now prohibited in more than 2.7 million square kilometers (1 million square miles), an area larger than Mexico and Texas combined. Domestically, trade bans on sharks and shark products recently passed in California, Washington and Oregon, and internationally in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

“With each new sanctuary, sharks gain another ally in their fight for survival,” said Matt Rand, director of Global Shark Conservation for the Pew Environment Group, the organization which is spearheading efforts to establish shark sanctuaries where targeted fishing for the species is prohibited.

Sharks are especially vulnerable to overfishing because they mature and reproduce slowly. As top predators, their depletion also has risks for the health of entire ocean ecosystems. Up to 73 million of these animals are killed each year to support the global fin trade, while 30 percent of all sharks are threatened or near threatened with extinction. Some populations, such as the scalloped hammerhead, have declined by up to 98 percent. But many governments are recognizing that sharks are more valuable alive and can be a key economic driver as a tourist attraction.

“The shark sanctuary here supports the health of our ocean environment and economy,” said Honduran President Lobo Sosa. “However, these species migrate beyond our waters, so it is necessary for us to work together to ensure that their populations and marine ecosystems are healthy.”

Sharks are the intended catch of some fisheries. They are also frequently caught unintentionally as bycatch. In certain fishing operations, including open sea longliners that target tuna and swordfish, as much as 25 percent of the take can be shark bycatch.

“When I created Palau’s sanctuary in 2009, I knew our country’s action could not accomplish the task of conserving the ocean's vast biodiversity alone,” said Palauan President Toribiong. “Our ocean’s health depends on sharks. I am delighted that more countries are pledging to play an active role in ensuring these creatures’ survival, not just in our lifetime but for future generations as well.”

Under the declaration supported by The Bahamas, Colombia, Honduras, the Maldives, the Marshall Islands, Mexico, Micronesia and Palau, up to 6 million additional square kilometers (2.3 million square miles)—greater than three times the land mass of Mexico—could be off-limits to commercial shark fishing and designated as shark sanctuaries. By signing the pledge, signatories commit to:

• maintain or develop shark sanctuaries;
• work together internationally to ensure healthy shark populations; and
• advocate for better science-based precautionary protection for sharks in all international fora.

“We applaud these countries for their leadership in protecting these amazing animals, and Pew will continue to work with governments and key stakeholders to support shark conservation efforts as they implement these new commitments,” said Rand.

ACTION ALERT: Ban the sale, trade, and possesion of shark and shark fin in the United States

Shark Defenders created a new petition on We the People, a new feature on WhiteHouse.gov, and we are asking for your support. Will you add your name? If this petition gets 5,000 signatures by October 22, 2011, the White House will review it and respond!

Also, will you repost the petition to Facebook and Twitter?

We the People allows anyone to create and sign petitions asking the Obama Administration to take action on a range of issues. If a petition gets enough support, the Obama Administration will issue an official response.

You can view and sign the petition here:

http://wh.gov/gWs

Here's some more information about this petition:

The Obama Administration should ban the sale, trade, and possession of shark and shark products, including shark fin.
One third of all shark species are threatened or near threatened with extinction.To reverse this trend, the USA must be a leader in protecting these important predators.The Administration has championed international
agreements and signed the Shark Conservation Act, but this only mandates how a shark is killed, not how many. On average, the USA lands 30,000 tons of shark per year. Palau, Maldives, Honduras, Bahamas, and Tokelau have declared national shark sanctuaries, banning the commercial fishing of sharks in their waters and ending the shark trade. Domestically, laws have been passed banning the sale, trade, and possession of shark in Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, and the territories of Guam and Northern Marianas. The USA should implement a national shark and shark fin ban.

Environmental groups formally object to MSC eco-label for Canadian longline swordfish

The Ecology Action Centre, David Suzuki Foundation, Oceana and the Sea Turtle Conservancy filed a formal objection today against the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) certification of Nova Scotia’s North West Atlantic Longline Swordfish Fishery.

This controversial fishery has been undergoing assessment against the MSC criteria since 2009, and in August 2011, the certifying company Moody Marine Ltd released a final report recommending the fishery for certification.

Pelagic longline fishing is an indiscriminate fishing method with high levels of bycatch, and is a leading cause of the collapse of shark and sea turtle populations worldwide. The Canadian longline swordfish fishery catches approximately 100,000 sharks and 1,400 sea turtles each year while landing 20,000 swordfish, which are sold through retailers in the United States.

The objection details numerous errors that have been made in the fishery assessment process, and asks that the fishery not be rewarded with MSC certification as a sustainable and well-managed fishery until substantial changes have been made. These changes are required to reduce levels of threatened and endangered sharks and sea turtles caught and increase monitoring to ensure that this wasteful bycatch does not continue to contribute to the decline of these species.

In April 2011, 35 marine conservation organizations and over 800 individuals submitted letters to the MSC asking that the certification of this fishery not progress. With the submission of a formal objection, MSC is required to forward the matter to an independent adjudicator.

The Ecology Action Centre is launching a public campaign to help improve the credibility of the MSC certification process, with Hector the Blue Shark bicycling to MSC headquarters in London, England. The campaign will launch on Monday September 26th with press releases to be distributed on that date.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Leaders to launch new shark conservation effort

President Toribiong and President Lobo Sosa at the United Nations in September 2010.
The president of Palau and the president of Honduras tomorrow are to announce the launch of a global shark conservation coalition.

Johnson Toribiong, president of Palau, and Porfirio Lobo Sosa, president of Honduras, are to be joined by leaders from other countries to sign a new declaration committing to the development of sanctuaries, which end commercial shark fishing in their national waters, the release states.

The signing is to take place at the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel in New York City, the release states. Matt Rand, director of global shark conservation of the Pew Environment Group, is also to be at the signing.

The Pew Environment Group is the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, which is a non-governmental organization that works globally to establish pragmatic, science-based policies that protect the world’s oceans, preserve wildlands and promote clean energy, the release states.

Two years ago, no country had declared all of its waters as a sanctuary for these creatures. Today, more than 2.7 million square kilometers have been set aside, more than the area of Mexico and Texas combined, according to the release.

Published in the Pacific Daily News on Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

Shark ban gets push in Marshall Islands

Members of the Committee on Resource and Development hear testimony on the Marshall Islands proposed shark protection law.  Photo: Stefanie Brendl.
A bill to ban shark finning in the Marshall Islands was backed by a Hawaii state senator and many local testifiers at a parliament hearing Wednesday.

Hawaii state Sen. Clayton Hee, who flew out to testify in support of the proposed legislation, joined with Marshall Islands leaders saying it is time to halt the killing of sharks that is undermining the marine ecology system.

Introduced by six members of parliament, the new bill wants to halt the possession, sale or transshipment of any shark part with fines for violations ranging from $5,000 to $250,000 and jail terms of up to a year.

Bill introducer Sen. Tony deBrum said the bill is patterned closely on laws already approved by many islands in the region, including Hawaii, Guam, the Northern Marianas, and elsewhere, including U.S. states.

Members of the Majuro community pack the public hearing room to provide testimony.  Photo: Stefanie Brendl.
Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority Director Glen Joseph testified in support of the bill. Joseph’s agency has its own shark ban planned as part of a larger fisheries law revamp that is to be introduced to the parliament later this month. But he said he supported this stand-alone shark ban bill.

But Hee objected to one section of the planned fisheries bill that would allow shark fishing for “scientific” purposes. “This is a clever maneuver for longliners to keep catching sharks,” Hee said. “It’s very clear that sharks bring in a lot of money, but the entire marine food chain suffers.”

People testifying at the hearing said longline fishing boats catch large volumes of shark for their fins that is labeled “bycatch.” Hee said this can be stopped by restricting the type of fishing gear and hooks the longliners are allowed to use.

Hee praised the senators for taking this “proactive step.”

If shark fishing and finning is allowed to continue “it will change our oceans forever,” he said. The shark industry is “all about greed and profiteering. It’s not about a sustainable planet.”

State Senator Clayton Hee of Hawaii (left) and State Senator Carlotta Leon Guerrero of Guam (right) testify on behalf of shark protections.  The pair have advocated for shark protections across the Western and Central Pacific in recent years.  Photo: Stefanie Brendl.
Hee said Hawaii “provides the perfect example of what happens in the marine ecology system when fish are depleted through greed. In Hawaii, by inattention to a sustainable lifestyle” many fish species were wiped out and reefs died, Hee said.

Shark fishing is not a Pacific island legacy, Hee said. It’s an industry driven by an Asian market for people who are wealthy to indulge in eating shark fin-related products, he said.

The parliament committee is expected to issue its report on the shark ban bill to the parliament when it reconvenes next week.

Published in the Marianas Variety and Marshall Islands Journal on Friday, September 9, 2011.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tiger and Hammerhead Protections Advance in Florida

Just recieved word that proposed protections for tiger and hammerhead sharks in Florida state waters have advanced. From this weekend's Florida Keys Keynoter:
(T)he Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission board on Thursday will hear staff proposals on protecting sharks.

Tiger sharks and three species of hammerhead sharks (great, smooth and scalloped) all should be added to Florida's no-take list, which now includes 22 shark species, says the recommended action.

Tiger shark "research in the Florida Keys indicates there may have been a significant decline in their numbers there, where they were once considered abundant," an agency report notes.

National studies suggest tiger shark populations have dropped significantly, by up to 97 percent in some locations.

The Asian appetite for shark-fin soup has led to increased mortality on big sharks, which are slow to reach sexual maturity and do not breed in large numbers. As a result, shark populations "can take decades to recover once they become depleted," scientists reported.

A series of seven statewide workshops on sharks, including one in Key West, found widespread support for adding the four shark species to the protected list, staff said.

Two other shark proposals -- to require use of circle hooks in shark fishing, and to ban chumming from shore -- did not get endorsed by FWC staff.
It has been a busy week for shark conservation, with California, Tokelau and now Florida moving protections. Thank you for your continued support in all these initiatives.

Congrats, Florida!

Toronto: Sharks Need You

Everyone in Canada who took the Shark Defenders pledge was forwarded an email we received from Rob Stewart yesterday. Thought we'd put it up on the blog just in case there are some shark conservationists lurking about in Toronto who could help testify tomorrow in support of a Toronto shark fin ban:
Dear Friends,

This is Rob Stewart, I just heard that the opposition is going to be out in full force at Toronto City Hall this week where the motion to ban shark fin is on the agenda.

Sharks need your help today. We need people to testify this FRIDAY, Sept 9th at 9:30am in support of the ban - maximum 5 minutes each, especially those with personal experience or close connections to the cause

If you want to help, please contact me ASAP at finfree@unitedconservationists.org

Kindest thanks,

Rob

P.S. Please forward this. We want the kind of turn out in Toronto that the kids in Guam and Saipan had for their laws
Hope you can make it!

Thanks!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tokelau Declares Shark Sanctuary

Blue Shark (Prionace glauca).  Photo: Chris and Monique Fallows.
Pew Congratulates South Pacific Island for Joining Global Trend

Matt Rand, director of Global Shark Conservation for the Pew Environment Group, issued the following statement today in response to the shark sanctuary designation made by Tokelau, an island territory in the South Pacific. The new sanctuary encompasses all 319,031 square kilometers (123,178 square miles) of Tokelau’s exclusive economic zone.

“We congratulate the government and people of Tokelau for giving their shark populations a glorious place to thrive. This action further strengthens the unprecedented global conservation trend to protect these apex predators. From the Bahamas, Chile and Honduras in the Americas, to the Marshall Islands and Guam in Micronesia, governments continue to join our efforts to protect sharks.

“The high demand for shark fins for an Asian soup delicacy, along with wasteful fishing practices, contributes to the death of up to 73 million of these animals annually.

“We are thrilled to see Tokelau take this action and look forward to working with leaders further to protect its sharks.”

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

AB 376 Amendments

AB 376, California's shark fin bill, was amended with AB 853, the text of which is available online (posted below for your convenience):
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST

AB 853, as amended, Fong
Sharks.

Existing law makes it unlawful to possess any bird, mammal, fish,
reptile, or amphibian, or parts thereof, taken in violation of any of
the provisions of the Fish and Game Code, or of any regulation made
under it.

This bill would create exemptions from a shark fin prohibition
proposed by AB 376. The bill would require the Ocean Protection
Council to submit an annual report to the Legislature that lists any
shark species that have been independently certified to meet
internationally accepted standards for sustainable seafood, as
provided. The provisions of the bill would become operative only if
AB 376 is enacted and takes effect on or before January 1, 2012.

Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes.
State-mandated local program: no.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1. Section 2021.5 is added to the
Fish and Game Code , to read:

2021.5. (a) Notwithstanding Section 2021, all of the following
provisions apply:

(1) Any person who holds a license or permit issued by the
department to take or land sharks for recreational or commercial
purposes may possess, including for purposes of consumption or
taxidermy, or may donate to a person licensed or permitted pursuant
to Section 1002, a shark fin or fins consistent with that license or
permit.

(2) Before July 1, 2013, any person may possess, sell, offer for
sale, trade, or distribute a shark fin possessed by that person, as
of January 1, 2012.

(3) Nothing in Section 2021 prohibits the sale or possession of a
shark carcass, skin, or fin for taxidermy purposes pursuant to
Section 3087.

(b) (1) The Ocean Protection Council shall submit an annual report
to the Legislature that lists any shark species that have been
independently certified to meet internationally accepted standards
for sustainable seafood, as defined in Section 35550 of the Public
Resources Code, and adopted by the Ocean Protection Council pursuant
to Section 35617 of the Public Resources Code, including chain of
custody standards.

(2) A report to be submitted pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be
submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.

SEC. 2. This act shall become operative only if
Assembly Bill 376 of the 2011-12 Regular Session is enacted and takes
effect on or before January 1, 2012. All matter omitted in
this version of the bill appears in the bill as amended in the
Senate, August 16, 2011. (JR11)

AB 376 Passes California Senate 25-9! On to the Governor's Desk!

Breaking news!

AB 376 just passed with a vote of 25-9!  The bill was amended, but those amendments (AB 853) do not seem to overly harm the intent of the bill

The bill heads to the desk of California Governor Jerry Brown for signature.

Stay tuned for more!

Shark Conservation on CNN International This Week

For those of you living outside the United States, CNN will run a 30-minute program on sharks, shark finning, and shark conservation later this week. For those of you living in the United States, the program will be hosted on the CNN EcoSolutions website after the program runs the first time on TV.  Here is the schedule:

Thursday, Sept 8 at 3:30 am EST
Thursday, Sept 8 at 11:30 pm EST
Saturday, Sept 10 at 1:30 am EST
Saturday, Sept 10 at 5:30 am EST
Saturday, Sept 10 at 1:30 pm EST
Sunday, Sept 11 at 2:30 am EST
Sunday, Sept 11 at 11:00 am EST
Sunday, Sept 11 at 10:30 pm EST

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Kids in Canada Want to Protect Sharks, Too

Port Carling, Canada's 7-year old Kassidy with Rob Stewart, director and producer of Sharkwater.
When 7-year-old Kassidy heard that between 26 and 73 million sharks a year were being killed just for their fins, she jumped into action. For this 1st grade student from Port Carling, Canada asking her family and friends to sign the petition to save sharks simply wasn’t enough. In three short days she gave a presentation in every classroom at Algonquin Ridge Elementary in Barrie, collecting over 600 signatures to support shark fin ban legislation in Toronto.

Rob Stewart, the award-winning filmmaker behind Sharkwater was blown away when he received her petitions. “Kassidy has done more to save sharks than most adults have. Kids have the power to change the future of our planet; we’ve seen it happen in Saipan, Guam and now it’s happening here in Ontario. We can all learn something important from her.”

To thank her personally, Stewart invited Kassidy to the recent “Making Waves for Wildlife” fundraising event for the Muskoka Wildlife Centre where Stewart gave a keynote address about species and ecosystem conservation.

United Conservationists' Julie Anderson, Rob Stewart and Zennifer Zabawa with Kassidy.

“I feel that this experience has profoundly affected Kassidy.” Said Kassidy’s mom, Suzanne, “I was so surprised to see her tongue tied - that is a very rare occasion.” Kassidy, who aspires to become a veterinarian, learned that even though she is young, she can make a difference.

And, Kassidy’s efforts continue to grow; the Muskoka Wildlife Centre has placed her petition at their facility and is collecting even more signatures. Stewart continues his mission to save sharks worldwide, hosting a fundraising event in his hometown of Toronto to help support the Fin Free Toronto campaign launched by his non-profit organization, United Conservationists on September 14th.

Read Rob Stewart's guest blog, Kids Can Protect the Ocean, Too to see how kids are leading the charge to protect the world's sharks.
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