Monday, December 31, 2012

Last Post of the Year...

...and we're using it to wish you a Happy New Year!


2012 was an interesting year for sharks.  There were ups and downs, but with the new protections for whale sharks in the Pacific and the fully protected shark sanctuaries in French Polynesia and the Cook Islands, the year definitely is ending on a high.  2013 is lining up to be another interesting year. 

In just over two months we'll all be in Bangkok, Thailand calling for shark and manta ray protections at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.  Even if you can't join us there in person, we hope you'll lend us your voice by participating in the Shark Stanley and Friends Campaign.

Stay safe tonight.  You are more likely to be killed by a drunk driver than be killed by a shark.

Introducing Manta Reina!


Guest Blog
by Leah Meth


Shark Stanley has a new friend, Manta Reina. She has heard his call to help protect sharks and rays at the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Bangkok this March. Manta Reina has left her tropical home to tell the world how important it is to help save manta rays from unsustainable international trade. Reina is a reef manta, Manta alfredi, one of the two species in the genus Manta proposed for Appendix II listing at CITES. Manta rays are listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as vulnerable and are threatened because of the demand for their gill rakers, which is used as an ingredient in herbal remedies.

Manta Reina Downloads:
Manta Reina - 8.5"x11"
Manta Reina - A4
Large Manta Reina Cutout
Manta Reina en Español 

Just like Shark Stanley, Manta Reina is traveling around the world to find friends who will support shark and manta ray protections at the upcoming Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting in March in Bangkok, Thailand. If you would like to help her with this mission, you can print this picture of her, cut it out, and take a photo with her anywhere you wish. Shark Defenders is compiling the photos from around the world to share on ourblog and web pages, and sending them to governments voting at CITES.

Visit Shark Stanley's Homepage for Downloads of all his friends.

Shark Defenders caught up with Manta Reina and asked her, at the end of 2012 to tell us 12 things about herself, the threats to her species and why she’s joining Shark Stanley:

Photo: Neil McCarty
  1. I’m a member of the Mobulid family, which has 11 species including us reef mantas and the larger oceanic mantas. My wingspan can reach up to 5m! My oceanic manta cousins are even bigger, reaching 7m.
  2. Despite being one of the largest creatures in the ocean, I’m a plankton eater and prefer the tiniest organisms living in the sea!
  3. My mouth has evolved perfectly to filter tiny zooplankton, using my sieve-like gill rakers. The big cephalic lobes around my mouth help filter this food. Check out these pictures and videos of me and my friends and feeding together – humans always tell me how acrobatic we are!
  4. A lot of humans don’t know that we’re very intelligent: in fact, we have the biggest brain of all 32,000 species of fish!
  5. I live mostly a pelagic life out in the open ocean throughout the tropics and sub-tropics, but often visit reefs to meet other mantas, feed and get cleaned. My oceanic manta cousins are more migratory, so you even find them sometimes in temperate waters.
  6. I reach sexual maturity relatively late in my life (15-20 years old) and don’t have many young over my lifetime – we can only have one baby every 1-3 years. This means that I’m very vulnerable to overfishing and my species is slow to recover.
  7. My species has been thriving in the oceans for 4.8 million years! Unfortunately, I’m facing a lot of threats out there in the ocean today from human activities. We get entangled in fishing lines and nets, and most recently, the gill raker trade has reached unsustainable levels.
  8. The estimated number of mobula and mantas rays caught every year is 94,000 and 3,400 respectively.
  9. This is dangerous because humans don’t really know that much about the size of the global manta ray population.
  10. A manta ray is worth more alive than dead: divers from all over the world come to see us, bringing in over US$100 million every year from tourism revenues. On the other hand, the gill raker trade is valued at only US$11 million per year.
  11. In fact, the value of one live manta ray throughout its whole lifetime is US$1 million!
  12. You can help protect me by joining the Shark Stanley campaign and taking a photo with me. My friends at Shark Defenders will make sure that your CITES country representative sees these unique petition “signatures” and hears your call to protect sharks and manta rays!
Photo: Neil McCarty
Leah Meth is a masters student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Contributing Editor at Shark Defenders.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Shark Stanley Still Looking for Friends in 150 Countries

Guest Blog
by Onon Bayasgalan

During the past two weeks since the Shark Stanley project was launched, we have had people sending in photos from 27 countries! Leah and I have been awed by the creativity that people have poured into their photos, and we both agree that Shark Stanley has already seen more of the world than the two of us combined. We are very pleased with the results, but we still have to reach out to every single Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species member countries with which we hope to establish relations. We have made partnerships with amazing organizations such as Shark Savers, The Coral Reef Alliance, Mundo Azul, Shark Aid UK, Shark Rescue, and many more. These partnerships and collaborative efforts are truly what make great campaigns. In that spirit, our daunting task of acquiring the support of all CITES countries is a challenge we know can face!

Supporters in Canada, Mongolia, Mexico, and the United States were some of the first to send in their photos. This is not surprising since I come from Mongolia, Leah from Canada, and we both go to school in the USA. We encourage you to keep on sending in photos if you are from any of these countries. More importantly, you can also continue to help out by connecting us to people living in the 150 countries that we haven’t found support in yet.

Here are a few facts that will you help understand which countries we are missing:
  • There are 51 countries in the Middle East and Africa where Shark Stanley has yet to visit. He has supporters in South Africa and Egypt, but we hope he can travel across the continent and find even more.
  • Shark Stanley still has to visit 37 countries in Europe. He already has photos from people in Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Sweden, and the UK.
  • South America and the Caribbean will also be a key region for shark protections at CITES. Friends from Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Honduras have already taken their photos with Stanley, but there are 27 more countries he needs to visit.
  • Shark Stanley still needs to make more headway in Asia. He has made friends in Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, the Philippines, and South Korea, but there are 31 more countries he is dying to visit.
  • Shark Stanley will also have to hopscotch across Oceania. He has already been to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Palau. Now he needs to visit Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu.
There are only 63 days until CITES begins and Shark Stanley will have to visit on average three countries per day if he is to reach his goal of finding supporters in every country. He can only accomplish this with your help!

Onon Bayasgalan is a masters student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Contributing Editor at Shark Defenders.  

Friday, December 28, 2012

Shark Conservation Win of the Year

Cooks Islands: A safe place for sharks
Earlier this month the government of the Cook Islands declared their 1.9 million square kilometer exclusive economic zone a shark sanctuary.  In taking its shark policy from one of no management to full protections, the Cook Islands' declaration of the shark sanctuary was the boldest shark management decision of 2012.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Gemma Atkinson and Shark Stanley

Gemma Atkinson is not Mr. Bean's daughter.
Shark Stanley met English celebrity Gemma Atkinson over the weekend -- his second celebrity endorsement.  You can follow along with the Adventures of Shark Stanley on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mongolia Supports Shark Stanley

Shark Stanley is looking for at least 20 people living in every country to take their photo with him to show their support for listing sharks and manta rays at the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).  The photos will be used for a unique kind of petition that literally shows the faces of shark conservation.  Using the very best of the submitted photos, each country will get their own page in Shark Stanley Petition Pages showing the photos their citizens took (the best photos will be taken in front of iconic landmarks...hint, hint).

The people of Mongolia are the first to provide Shark Defenders with enough photos to complete their country's page.  Once finalized, their page in the Shark Stanley Support Pages will look something like this:
Mongolia Supports Shark Stanley
Shark Defenders will send a hard copy of this page and once finished, a digital copy of the entire Shark Stanley Support Pages to Mongolia's representatives to CITES:

Mr. ENKHBAT Donchinbuu
Director General
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism of Mongolia
Government Building-2
United Nation's Street
ULAANBAATAR - 210 646
Email: d_enkhbat @ mne.gov.mn; enkhbat_num @ yahoo.com

Ms. BAYARKHUU Sandagdorj
General Secretary of National Bio-Safety Committee
Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism of Mongolia
Government Building-2
United Nation's Street 5/2
ULAANBAATAR-210 646
Email: bayarkhuu @ mne.gov.mn; bayarkhuu2002 @ yahoo.com

Mr BATBOLD Dorjgurkhem
Director, International Cooperation Division
Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism of Mongolia
Government Building-2
United Nation's Street 5/2
ULAANBAATAR - 210 646
Email: dbatbold @ mne.gov.mn ; batbodo @ yahoo.com

Dr Tsesrenjav Janchiv
Scientific Authority for CITES
Institute of Biology
Mongolian Academy of Sciences
ULAANBAATAR 51

If you are one of the hundreds of people who submitted your photos to us, we encourage you to also submit your photo directly  to your country's representatives.  Photos coming directly from constituents will have a greater impact.  Names, addresses, and emails can be found on the CITES website

Thank you and congrats to the people of Mongolia.  With 1 Shark Stanley Petition Page draft complete, there are 176 to go!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Tiburón Stanley dice: “!Ayuda a protejerme!”


Stanley y sus amigos jugaban en su arrecife,
cuando vino una red de pesca y los atrapo.
Al fin lograron escapar, pero pronto vieron con pena
Que no habia tiburones! Y que su hogar estaba vacío y desolado.

Ahora Stan y sus amigos buscan, por todo el mar,
desde Bali a Brasil y Bangladesh a Belice
buscan gente que quiera defender su causa y provocar un gran movimiento
diciendole a todo el mundo, ¡Ayuda al Tiburón Stanley a proteger los mares! 

¡Hola amigo! Mi nombre es Stanley y actualmente estoy viajando alrededor del mundo para encontrar amigos que me acompañen en Marzo para apoyar la conservación de los tiburones y rayas en la Convención sobre el Comercio Internacional para Especies Amenazadas de Fauna y Flora Silvestres (CITES). Para ayudar, puedes descargar este PDF de mi imagen, imprimirlo y recortarlo. Después tomate una foto con el recorte, adjuntando tu nombre y de donde eres. Sube la foto a Facebook con la etiqueta @SharkDefenders o a Twitter o Instagram con la etiqueta #SharkStanley. También puedes mandarla por correo electrónico a info@sharkdefenders.com o a la autoridad CITES del lugar donde vives.

Los organizadores de esta campaña están compilando fotos de alrededor del mundo para construir una petición original que será enviada a los gobiernos participantes en CITES. Nuestras fotos favoritas serán compartidas en nuestro blog y a través de las redes sociales. ¡Ayúdanos a alcanzar nuestra meta de lograr asociarnos con al menos 50 organizaciones y celebridades y recolectar 5000 fotos de los 176 países afiliados a CITES!

Take Shark Stanley Home for the Holidays

I wonder how many airports Shark Stanley can visit in one week?
All it takes is for one person in each CITES member country to take Shark Stanley around to visit a few friends and local landmarks and we'll have enough photos to put together our petition representing the whole world.  Our goal is to have 20 people from each country take their picture with Shark Stanley.

So will you help?

Visit Shark Stanley's homepage, print his image, cut him out, and start snapping photos with your smart phone.  Email the photos to us at info@sharkdefenders.com and upload them onto Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram tagging #Shark Stanley, @SharkDefenders, and the country where you live (i.e. #USA, #Brazil, #Fiji).  Have some fun with your photos and we'll post the best ones on our Facebook page and blog.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Adventures of Shark Stanley: The First Few Days

Onon Bayasgalan is from Mongolia.
Shark Stanley started the week in New Haven, Connecticut with Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies student Onon Bayasgalan getting ready to launch his campaign to traipse across the globe looking for people to support shark and manta ray protections at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Leah Meth is from Canada.
He then swam from the East Coast to the Hawaiian Coast where he met up with Leah Meth and a friendly green sea turtle, a species already listed on CITES.  Leah is Onon's classmate at Yale (we don't know what school the turtle attends). Together with some help from the Pew Environment Group, Leah and Onon came up with the vision for the Shark Stanley campaign and worked with artist Dan Yagmin Jr. to create illustrations to represent the shark and ray species being proposed for CITES listing next year.

Students from Malaking Pook National High School
After Hawaii, Stanley kept on heading west until he came across the students at Malaking Pook National High School in Batangas Province, Philippines.  The students took photos of Stanley with their classmates, teachers, and parents and sent them in to show their support.

We won't say which airline, but their service is first class!
And then a very friendly flight attendant took Stanley to his next destination...

Follow Annie Anderson on Twitter @SharksNeedLove
Downtown Swingin' London!  The lovely Annie Anderson from Sharks Need Love took Stanley to the premier of 'The Double.'  Stanley also got his picture taken with Jessica-Jane Clement -- his first celebrity endorsement -- and posted the photo to Instagram.

In the first few days of his campaign to protect sharks and rays at CITES, Shark Stanley has visited the United States, Canada, Mongolia, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Philippines, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Taiwan POC, South Korea, Germany, and Singapore (and maybe a few others that we're forgetting).  His goal is to visit all 177 CITES member countries (the Maldives became a party to CITES today, raising the number from 176) and he needs your help to get there.

If you have friends living around the world, please tell them about Shark Stanley and share his homepage so that when the CITES meeting begins in March, Shark Stanley can honestly say he has the support of people in every country around the world.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Shark Stanley Needs Your Help

Take your photo with Shark Stanley and post it to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Guest Blog
by Leah Meth

We’re excited to announce the launch of Shark Stanley, a charismatic little hammerhead traveling the world to help protect sharks and rays! He’s the cornerstone of our grassroots campaign, a collaboration between two graduate students at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, the Pew Environment Group, Shark Savers, and Shark Defenders.  We aim to provide engaging and creative educational tools to mobilize youth support for shark conservation and ensure that our voices are heard on the international stage.

Leah Meth and Shark Stanley.
The idea is simple: cut him out, take a photo with him and send it our way! We’ll compile the photos across our social media platforms and make sure that key decision makers internationally see them. To accompany the cut-out, we will be releasing an educational children’s activity book in January, The Adventures of Shark Stanley and Friends, which will be available for free on Shark Defenders.

Before we tell you more, we’d like to talk about why we’re doing this campaign, starting with the threats to sharks and why it’s such a critical time for shark conservation.

SHARKS AT CITES
In March 2013, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna (CITES) meeting will take place in Bangkok. With 176 member countries, this multilateral agreement protects more than 30,000 species globally and plays a powerful and key role in preventing extinction of many plants and animals by ensuring sustainable rates of trade.

There are three shark proposals and one manta ray proposal on the table for Appendix II CITES listing:
  • The Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, one of the most iconic and endangered shark species with some of the most valuable fins in the market. Listed as Endangered globally on the IUCN Red List, hammerheads often aggregate, making them even more vulnerable to overfishing.
  • The Porbeagle Shark, a large, warm-blooded temperate water shark targeted for both its large fins and meat. Their populations have been reduced by around 70%.
  • The Oceanic Whitetip Shark, an open ocean species with large, highly valued fins; Critically Endangered in parts of it range and Vulnerable globally.
  • Oceanic and Reef Manta Rays, some of the most stunningly charismatic wildlife in the oceans. Listed as Vulnerable globally, they have been targeted in recent years for an emerging international market for their gill rakers, which they use to filter plankton. Some populations have declined by as much as 85%.
At the CITES meeting in 2010, the passing of several shark proposals was only narrowly missed, needing only a small number of votes to pass. 2013 will be their year at CITES: the science is crystal clear, now we just need to do everything we can to make sure our country’s representatives vote YES!

SHARK STANLEY’S JOURNEY TO BANGKOK
Ensuring shark and ray protection at CITES will be Shark Stanley’s first global campaign. As he and his friends prepare to head to Bangkok, we plan to have him reach every one of the 176 CITES member countries. Using viral social media, Shark Stanley photos will appear across all our platforms, from Facebook and Twitter, to Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr. Our goal is to partner with 50 organizations, aquariums and NGOs internationally to gather at least 5000 photos from 176 countries, as well as photos from key celebrities and big names in marine conservation. Stayed tuned: we’ll feature our favorites across our social media platforms and will be offering give-aways and prizes over the next two months!

Onon Bayasgalan and some of our supporters with Shark Stanley.
These photos will provide a way for you to actively engage in shark conservation. Acting as “signatures,” they will be part of a creative petition that will diverge from traditional approaches. The internet has plenty of shark petitions, so our goal is to create something new to complement other campaigns by providing an educational tool that will go beyond a signature, providing a charismatic character that young people (and the young at heart) can build their own relationship with while making meaningful links with youth around the world as they share their own Shark Stanley adventures. Shark Stanley’s new friends will compile photos according to country in compelling visual mosaics, which we will send to all 176 representatives and display at the CITES meeting.

We will show the people in charge of voting for these proposals that there are thousands of passionate supporters, in their country and globally, that demand shark protection! We invite you to join us to Help Protect Shark Stanley!

Everyone can help with this!
  • You can start by sending us your Shark Stanley photo. Downloads and simple instructions are here.
  • If your organization would like to partner with Shark Stanley at CITES, put a link to this page on your website, then email us your logo and five photos of your friends with Shark Stanley to info@sharkdefenders.com. We'll post your logo and link to your website on a special sponsors' page.
  • If you work with kids in schools, aquariums, museums (wherever!), we’d love to provide our activity booklet for free or help you to design a workshop on shark conservation.
Leah Meth and Onon Bayasgalan are masters student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Contributing Editors at Shark Defenders.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Polynesia Regional Shark Sanctuary

As of 12-12-12, French Polynesia, Cook Islands, American Samoa, and Tokelau all have in place domestic measures banning the sale, trade, possession, and commercial fishing of sharks in all waters under their jurisdiction.  If you were to add up all the ocean inside of those white lines, this area would be roughly the size of Australia.  Is this the beginning of a Polynesian Regional Shark Sanctuary?  And how about Micronesia, the leaders of which recommitted last week to a regional shark sanctuary?  Is a Pacific Shark Sanctuary looming in the future?

12-12-12: A Good Day for Sharks

Please Share, Tweet, and Pin to show your thanks!

The Cook Islands  created a 1.9 million square kilometers shark sanctuary in their ocean today. The Mayans were wrong -- today wasn't the end of the world, it was the beginning of the end of the overfishing of sharks!

The sanctuary, encompassing an area the size of Mexico, is the result of a partnership between Shark Defenders Pew Environment Group and the Pacific Islands Conservation Initiative, and had the support of many local community and political leaders. Hundreds of signatures were collected on a local petition, and students submitted letters and drawings bearing the message “Akono Te Mango (Protect Our Sharks).”

"We are proud as Cook Islanders to provide our entire exclusive economic zone (EEZ), an area of 1.9 million square kilometers as a shark sanctuary,” said the Honorable Teina Bishop, Cook Islands minister of marine resources when he made the announcement today. “Together with our Polynesian neighbor, Tahiti Nui (French Polynesia), we have created the largest shark sanctuary in the World. We join our Pacific neighbors to protect this animal, which is very vital to the health of our oceans, and our culture."

“We’re very proud to stand together today in celebration for sharks and for the community,” said Stephen Lyon, director of the Pacific Islands Conservation Initiative. “It further establishes the Cook Islands, which has already declared both a whale sanctuary and a marine park, as a world leader in marine protection.”

“This is hopeful news for the world’s sharks and our efforts to protect them,” said Jill Hepp, director of shark conservation for the Pew Environment Group. “We are thrilled to see the Cook Islands become part of this global movement during a time when so many shark populations are threatened.”

The Pew Environment Group has more information on their website.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

French Polynesia Shark Sanctuary

Green campaigners on Friday hailed a decision by France that they said would create the world's biggest shark sanctuary.

On Monday, the government of French Polynesia included the mako, the last shark that was not protected in its waters, on the list of fish banned from capture or trade in its vast territorial zone in the South Pacific.

The move was announced on Thursday at the annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meeting in Manila, where nations also agreed to take steps to protect whale sharks from tuna nets.

"At more than 4.7m km² of ocean, this designation doubles the size of the area already protected by all six existing shark sanctuaries," said Josh Reichert, head of the Pew Environment Group.

But, he said, "sharks are threatened throughout much of the world's oceans, and there is a great need to protect them before they slip below levels from which they may never recover".

According to conservation group WWF, about 73 million sharks are killed every year, mainly for their fins - a practice that has brought a third of shark species into the category of threatened, or near-threatened, with extinction.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Victory for vulnerable whale sharks

Please Share, Retweet, Like, and Pin this image
Asia and Pacific nations agreed at a meeting in the Philippines on Wednesday to take steps to protect whale sharks in a victory for the world's largest fish, officials said.

Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission nations agreed that tuna fishers must stop setting their nets around the vulnerable giants in order to catch smaller fish that gather underneath them, said Palau fishing official Nanette Malsol.

She said the deal binds tuna-fishing nations such as the United States, China, and Japan, and was a victory for a coalition of small Pacific nations, called the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, that has been campaigning for this measure.

"This rule follows negotiations by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement for three years to try and get the big fishing nations to adopt protections for whale sharks," said Malsol, who also heads the coalition.

The small Pacific island nations said they already imposed such a rule on their own tuna fishers.

Smaller fish like tuna congregate under whale sharks, so fishermen often seek the giants and set their nets under them to catch the other fish, said Angelo Villagomez, a spokesman of the the US-based Pew Environment Group.

As a result, whale sharks, which are considered a vulnerable species, often get entangled in tuna nets and die, he said.

Fifty whale sharks were recorded having died from tuna nets in 2010 and 19 in 2011, said Villagomez, adding that there were likely many other cases which went unreported.

Parties to the agreement reached at the Manila meeting Wednesday must free any whale shark that gets caught in their nets and must also record and report any incidents involving the giant fish, Malsol said.

The Pew group, which is also attending the meeting, is pressing for other measures to protect 143 other threatened species of sharks that are affected by tuna fishers.

However Villagomez said he doubted they would pass as some fishing countries actively catch these sharks.

Whale sharks measure as much as 12 metres (39 feet) long but are harmless to humans and feed on tiny marine animals. They have become popular tourist attractions in countries such as the Philippines, Mexico and Australia.

Published by AFP on Thursday, December 6, 2012.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Progress at the WCPFC

Fishing port in Manila.
Delegates to the 9th Regular Session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in Manila, Philippines were asked to describe how the week long meeting was progressing in one word or one sentence.  The following lists the answers in the order they were received.  Enjoy.
Rough. Complex, long, and too much air-conditioning. Watching Paint Dry. Good. Lame. Informative. Very Informative. Nowhere to land. Need to aim for only sustainable fishing. Great shirt. Save tuna. Very successful. Inspiring. Tiring, but worthwhile. Stepless. Glacial disappointment. Tense. Very manageable. Glacial pace. Yes we can! Longwinded. Slow. We will get a measure in place! No option. Hard work for another year. Slow. Very exciting. Unbelievable. Too many appeals and too little progress. Great. Turn the switch! Hard. Awesome and exciting. No fishing for tuna and dolphin for five years. Effective in business. Wonderful discussion. Frustrating. Still an issue to address coastal water issue. No FADs. Well attended. Flipped the switch. PNA needs to stand up for the fisheries. As expected. Very interesting. Nice discussions and opinions. Yay for whale sharks. Love our environment. Need to conserve. A great initiative for a sustainable fishing in the Pacific. No illegal fishing. Very good! Unity for all member countries. Save the tuna. Gratifying. Heated and spirited exchanges. Very good. Great work. Whale shark. Awesome. Slow. I think some of the points are not discussed well enough by members. Knowledgeable. Bloody. A lot of issues to be solved. Development of tuna business. Good luck. Frustrating! No efficiency. Informative. Bad: FADs and no reference points. Good: CMMs. For tomorrow’s tuna. Hopeful. Very interesting. Lousy. A big help to solve problems especially on the part of high seas. Awesome. Still a lot of work to move forward. Do better to monitor. Better to protect tuna. Great. Huge hall, excellent arrangement. Challenging and interesting. LRP and TRP is a must. Mind draining. Make decisions. Awesome. Decisions! Mabuhay WCPFC! Save tuna. Save tuna. This WCPFC successful. Tiring. Bullshit. Just hope they close the pockets. Direction. Get serious. Management of tuna in WCPFC. Will WCPFC care for albacore before it’s too late? Very interesting. Conservation of tuna. Better to protect. Nobody cares about the fish. Not enough! Mabuhay! Absorbing. Tiring. Fun. Success. Just talk, no action. Frustrating.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pacific Nations Alarmed by Tuna Overfishing

Angelo Villagomez of the
Pew Environment Group
shows a sample of a line
 and hook.

MANILA, Philippines — Pacific island nations and environmentalists raised an alarm Sunday over destructive fishing methods and overfishing that they say are threatening bigeye tuna — the fish popular among sushi lovers worldwide.

Palau fisheries official Nanette Malsol, who leads a bloc of Pacific island nations, said at the start of a weeklong tuna fisheries conference in Manila that large countries should cut back on fishing, curb the use of destructive fishing methods and respect fishing bans to allow tuna stocks to be replenished in the Pacific, which produces more than 60 percent of the world’s tuna catch.

The annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, which regulates commercial fishing in the vast expanse of waters from Indonesia to Hawaii, is to approve steps aimed at protecting the bigeye and other threatened tuna species, along with giant whale sharks. More than 600 delegates from about 40 Asian and Western countries, along with environmental activists, are attending.

Malsol said she expects heated debate. Proponents of the multibillion-dollar fishing industry have squared off with conservationists in the past over the best ways to protect the bigeye and other species without considerably setting back the lucrative business.

Read the full story on the Washington Post.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pacific Nations Call on Tuna Commission to Protect Whale Sharks

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) said countries must agree to protect whale sharks from fishing at next week’s Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting in Manila, Philippines.

Each year the WCPFC brings together the Pacific Island countries, Asian nations, US, EU and other foreign fishers to meet and decide rules for fishing of tuna throughout the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, the world’s largest tuna fishery, supplying 50% of the global tuna supply.

This year the Commission must decide on a conservation and management measure for whale sharks at its annual meeting from 2-6 December 2012. In 2010, PNA proposed to WCPFC a ban on setting purse seine fishing nets around whale sharks which was not adopted and the issue was deferred to this year’s meeting.

Up to 12 metres long, whale sharks are the largest living fish species in the world admired for their distinctive spotted markings and gentleness towards divers. Whale sharks sometimes provide shelter for swimming tuna and other fishes in the open sea. A paper from the Secretariat of Pacific Community (SPC) stated that in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean observers have recorded intentional setting of purse seine nets on whale sharks, as well as whale sharks being captured in nets accidentally. This fishing plus their slowness to reproduce, with whale sharks living around 70 years, has meant they are listed by IUCN as vulnerable to extinction.

The PNA banned setting nets on whale sharks and require whale sharks to be released alive if accidentally circled in nets in 2010.

PNA Chair Nanette Malsol said: “The PNA are global leaders in conservation and management of tuna but we are also concerned about the decline of other large marine species like the whale shark. We took the step of banning setting of nets around whale sharks in the PNA area. Next week we want WCPFC to protect whale sharks throughout the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.”

“PNA supports the proposal to address the impact of fishing on whale sharks put forward by Australia. It is not acceptable that these vulnerable species should be killed or injured just to catch a few extra fish. We must protect these beautiful creatures of the sea as part of our responsibilities under the WCPFC and the United Nations Law of the Sea.”

Released by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement on November, 27, 2012.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Protecting Sharks at the Regional and Global Level


Guest Blog
by AJ Sablan

Happy Thanksgiving!

This time of year brings not just a spate of holidays, but a veritable influx of RFMOs (Regional Fisheries Management Organizations), to be followed by March’s Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.

RFMOs are international bodies made up of countries that share a practical and/or financial interest in managing and conserving fish stocks in a particular region. RFMOs are established by international agreements or treaties, and may take different forms. Some focus on regulating fishing for a particular species or group of species. Others have a broader mandate, with responsibility to ensure that the fishery does not negatively affect the wider marine ecosystem and the species within it. There are approximately 17 RFMOs covering various geographic areas, some of which overlap. Of these, five are the so-called tuna RFMOs, which manage fisheries for tuna and other large species such as swordfish and marlin. Together, the five tuna RFMOs have responsibility for managing fisheries in approximately 91 percent of the world’s oceans.

And because of all of the upcoming meetings – and opportunities for governing bodies to pass international protections for sharks – we here at Shark Defenders wanted to give you a playbook of what species are up for protections, and where.

ATLANTIC
ICCAT, or the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, is responsible for the conservation and management of tuna and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas. ICCAT is also responsible for other fish species caught in tuna fisheries in its convention area, principally sharks. Last week, ICCAT members discussed prohibiting the retention of porbeagle sharks (check out the CITES mention at the end of the factsheet linked here); establishing concrete, science-based precautionary catch limits for shortfin mako and blue sharks; and requiring the use of the best-available types of fishing gear for reducing bycatch. At the conclusion of their meeting, ICCAT members agreed to advance shark protections in the future, modernizing and amending the treaty under which the commission operates. This includes adding a mandate for the conservation and management of sharks.

WESTERN PACIFIC
The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) oversees the world's largest tuna fishery. It is responsible for fishing in an area that covers almost 20 percent of the Earth's surface. The waters are home to many types of sharks, among them some of the world’s most at-risk species.

Proposals have been introduced to ban the retention of silky sharks, prohibit purse seine vessels from intentionally setting nets around whale sharks; require that Members and Cooperating Non-Members use shark bycatch mitigation measures to protect sharks; and prohibit the removal of shark fins at sea, in an effort to improve enforcement of the RFMO’s already-existing shark finning ban. Non-government organizations like the Pew Environment and Greenpeace are also calling for the protection of hammerhead species and regulations on Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs). The meeting, which this year occurs the 2-6 December of 2012, is rapidly approaching.

EASTERN PACIFIC
The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) doesn’t meet for a few more months; however, excitement is already mounting for the February 2013 Technical Meeting on Sharks.

The IATTC manages tuna fisheries across 20% of the world’s total ocean area in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. This means that, in addition to watching tuna stocks, the RFMO must be cognizant of other species that may be affected by the fishery – including sharks. Hammerhead and silky sharks are particularly impacted negatively by fishing in the IATTC convention area. Hammerheads are targeted for their highly valued fins and are also caught incidentally in fishing gear as bycatch. Silky sharks are the main shark species caught by purse seines vessels, as well as by longlines. Data from an ongoing silky shark assessment show that their populations in the IATTC region have declined significantly, particularly in the south.

2012’s IATTC meeting proved to be a disappointment for sharks. Despite proposals by the European Union and Colombia to prohibit the retention of hammerheads and silky sharks, action was not taken to protect these vulnerable shark species. IATTC also failed to ban the use of wire leaders in the longline fishery, and failed to prohibit the removal of shark fins at sea.

GLOBAL
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international treaty restricting the international trade –not domestic consumption – of species whose survival is at risk. Species may be considered for three tiers of protections, called “listings,” which determine the degree to which trade is restricted. Every 2-3 years, countries that are a party to CITES convene during a “Conference of the Parties” (CoP) to discuss new additions to listings.

Presently, only 3 shark species are protected at the second-most restrictive tier (Appendix II): Whale sharks, great whites, and basking sharks. The exciting thing is that, although no species received protections at the last CoP in 2010, several shark and ray species have been proposed for protections for the meeting in March 2013. Keep your fingers crossed for manta rays, hammerheads, porbeagles, and oceanic whitetips; 2013 could become the year of the shark.

Alyssa Sablan is Shark Defender's student intern.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

American Pacific Islands Say 'NO' to Shark Trade

Hawaii, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and now American Samoa have implemented laws and regulations banning the sale, trade, and possession of shark fin, effectively closing down the shark fin trade in the American Pacific Islands.  Including California, Washington, Oregon, and Illinois, a total of 8 American states and territories have closed down this unsustainable trade.  The law in American Samoa is the strongest of the eight because it explicitly bans shark fishing in territorial waters.

According to American Samoa Department of Commerce Acting Director Lelei Peau, the new "rule means that outside fishers cannot even enter American Samoa's territorial waters with any sharks or shark parts."

Shark Defenders sends a big fa'afetai and thank you to the people of American Samoa.  If you'd like to express your thanks as well, please share, tweet, and pin this graphic designed by popular Indian cartoonist Anju Sabu.  You can follow the adventures of 'The Shark' at www.ohdakuwaqa.com.

The Pew Environment Group has photos and quotes from the shark defenders who helped implement this policy.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Samoan Shark Defender Gangnam Style


That's Shark Defender and KSBS radio DJ Joe Iosua aka 'J-Smooth' showing off his Gangnam Style in American Samoa. When he's not riding invisible horses around the island, J-smooth can be found promoting shark conservation in villages, classrooms, and over the airwaves. He's literally the voice of shark conservation in American Samoa here, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Follow the Frog


This psa has nothing to do with sharks (there are probably some bull sharks in the rainforest, though), but we want to share it with you. because. it. is. excellent!
You don't have to go to the ends of the Earth to save the rainforest. Just Follow the Frog! Shop for Rainforest Alliance Certified products here.

The Rainforest Alliance is a nonprofit conservation organization that holds Charity Navigator's highest rating of Four Stars.

What's behind the green frog seal? Only farms that meet rigorous sustainability criteria earn the right to use the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal. These criteria address all of the three pillars of sustainability -- environmental protection, social equity and economic viability -- and farms are evaluated by independent, third-party auditors. Learn more about Rainforest Alliance Certification and its impacts here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Meanwhile in Australia...

Guest Blog
by AJ Sablan

Happy Halloween!

My PADI instructor taught me when I was first learning to dive that when I see a shark I should remain calm and slowly swim away.  In the years since I have had the good fortune to swim with sharks in The Bahamas, Micronesia, and the Great Barrier Reef, and to be honest I have found this advice unhelpful.  The sharks always swim calmly away from me!

It is very difficult to talk about shark conservation without talking about fear.  Sharks eat people.  Sharks are killers.  People are afraid of sharks and many think that the only good shark is a dead shark.

Obviously, this has not been my experience.  I have never felt uncomfortable or afraid when there were sharks in the water.  But I live on a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and have been swimming with sharks -- even if I couldn't always see them -- since ever since.

Shark conservationists say that there is no need to be afraid of sharks.  They say that sharks have more to fear from us than we do from them because on average about 5 humans are bitten and killed by sharks each year.  In the same year, tens of millions of sharks are killed for their fins.

Yet despite the statistics, we are fascinated and frightened of sharks.  In fact, our fear of sharks pops up in the strangest of places.


While the winds of Hurricane Sandy were still gusting, a photo of a small shark swimming in a flooded front yard started spreading virally across the Internet.  This is not the first time such a photo has appeared after a big storm.  Last year in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, a photo of a great white shark swimming down a flooded street made the rounds.

These photos turned out to be hoaxes, but the scenario is strikingly similar to a new Australian film called Bait 3D.  In the film, a group of people find themselves trapped underwater inside a supermarket after a tsunami with several man eating great white sharks.


I haven't seen the entire movie yet, but I imagine it is at least as good as Shark Night 3D.

But is something like this even possible?  Are sharks even able to survive in murky flood waters?  Is this something we should really be afraid of?

The scary answer -- or the awesome answer depending on how you feel about sharks -- is yes!


For the last 17 years at the Carbrook Golf Club in Brisbane, Australia, a half dozen bull sharks have been swimming in the water hazard by the 15th tee.  The sharks became stranded after a flood and have been trapped ever since.

Six marine apex-predators trapped in a small fresh water lake?  I'm not going to admit to being scared, but perhaps these sharks should only be viewed from shore.

Alyssa Sablan is Shark Defender's student intern.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy: Shark in Front Yard

The DC Shark Defenders are hunkered down trying to ride out Hurricane Sandy.

While waiting for the power to go out we noticed this photo making the rounds on the Internet.

The media purports it to be a small shark swimming in a flooded Atlantic City, New Jersey front yard.

Fake or real?  What do you think?

H/T to Kevin McCarty for the photo.

And while we have your attention, please watch this video from the world's largest shark sanctuary.  We've also got more photos of us diving with 25 sharks -- without a cage.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Dispatches from the Marshall Islands: Song of the Sea

Guest Blog
By Angelo Villagomez

Isn’t it funny how fate can intervene sometimes?

The day I met Niten Anni, I was sitting outside having lunch with filmmaker Shawn Heinrichs in Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands. We were visiting the Pacific island country to participate in a training session on marine enforcement and to film a movie about sharks and the Marshall Islands, home of the world’s largest shark sanctuary.

While at the restaurant, Shawn and I were making plans to get to the Marshalls island of Kwajalein to see for ourselves whether stories of waters teeming with sharks were true. As we talked, a young man walked by, strumming a ukulele. We learned that he was a Marshallese musician, Niten Anni. I asked him if he would sing a few songs for our video and, lucky for us, he agreed.

I met Niten in Majuro.
Niten sang several beautiful songs in Marshallese about the surrounding ocean and his Pacific culture. He sang about his home island of Mejit, a distant spot with a population of 300. He sang of the people and of life on the island, and while Shawn and I listened, we were stunned that we had simply stumbled upon him by chance.


Sharks have been a part of Marshall Islands folklore and culture for centuries, and people living among the atolls understand that these animals play an important role in ocean and island health. Niten told us that he’s proud that his country has the world’s largest shark sanctuary. He’s proud that it is protecting sharks.

My hope is that this sentiment is shared by millions of others around the world and that someday the entire Pacific may sing a similar tune.

Published by the Pew Environment Group on October 25, 2012.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Identifying Shark Fins

Pew’s global shark conservation campaign developed Identifying Shark Fins: Oceanic Whitetip, Porbeagle and Hammerheads to help users rapidly identify dried shark fins found in fishing ports, sold by seafood dealers, or traded across international boundaries.

Many experts agree that it is necessary to monitor the trade in fins of five shark species of concern: oceanic whitetip, porbeagle, and three species of hammerhead (scalloped, smooth, and great). These species are globally distributed and large-bodied, and their fins are traded internationally in large numbers. All of these species have been proposed for inclusion in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which identifies species that could become threatened without trade regulation.

This guide describes the key characteristics that can be used to quickly and easily distinguish the first dorsal fins of these five species from other types of shark fins in trade.

One Year Later: The World's Largest Shark Sanctuary

The Marshall Islands is celebrating its first anniversary of being home to the world’s largest shark sanctuary. It’s an area of the central Pacific Ocean spanning 1,990,530 square kilometers (768,547 square miles)—nearly four times the landmass of California—in which commercial fishing of all sharks is prohibited. And not only is it the biggest, but its shark protections are also the strongest.


Recently the Pew Environment Group caught up with former Sen. Carlotta Leon Guerrero from Guam, who, as a regional leader on development and marine conservation issues, helped establish the shark sanctuary in 2011. She described the progress made to date and how the Marshall Islands is a model for countries interested in maintaining ocean health by protecting their top ocean predator.

What do sharks mean to you as a Pacific Islander?

Guerrero: Sharks are the protectors in our stories and myths, but now it is our turn to protect them. As Pacific Islanders, we need to stand up to the huge fishing vessels from distant countries. The Asian luxury of shark fin soup, for which these sharks are senselessly killed, is just to show off. That is wrong, very wrong.

How can you tell that the shark sanctuary is working? Are there indications?

Guerrero: First of all, it is working because the people support it. All of the mayors and all of the senators in the entire country are united in their mission to save sharks. Also, over the past year, we have seen a number of high-profile seizures of illegal fins in the Marshall Islands. There have been successful prosecutions of four violations resulting in fines of more than $235,000 since the sanctuary was declared.

If fishing vessels are being fined for illegally possessing sharks, where does the funding go after it is collected?

Guerrero: The fines are used to fund the operations of the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Agency, so in a way, the fines from the enforcement of the fishery are used to fund its own further enforcement. It pays for itself.

What can other countries learn from the Marshall Islands shark sanctuary?

Guerrero: The Marshalls are showing us that it can be done. They created a strong policy, and now the government agencies are enforcing the law. Enforcement doesn’t require creating a new agency for shark protection; it mostly requires some additional training for the conservation officers charged with implementing regulations for tuna, reefs, turtles, and whales. And if an additional officer or two are needed, the fines from the first violations can help offset those costs.

Published by the Pew Environment Group on October 23, 2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dispatches from Micronesia: A Trip to Chuuk's Shark Island

Guest Blog
By Angelo Villagomez

Chuuk, one of four states that make up the Federated States of Micronesia, is a world-renowned scuba diving destination, boasting dozens of World War II-era shipwrecks. It is also known for its sharks, which are attracted to the marine life that has made a home among the sunken wrecks.

The waters surrounding Chuuk’s tiny Shark Island are home to several species of sharks, including the gray, blacktip, and whitetip reef sharks. The island, which is no bigger than a baseball diamond and supports a handful of coconut trees, is circled by dozens of sharks. Shark Island is known as a “cleaning station” where hungry cleaner wrasses rid sharks of dead skin, external parasites, and other pests.


During a recent visit to Chuuk, representing the Pew Environment Group, I had the chance to sit down with Cindy Hall, manager of the Truk Lagoon Dive Center, to talk about shark diving there. Hall is an experienced guide who has lived on the island since 2009. Previously she worked in the Maldives and The Bahamas, Grenada, and Turks and Caicos.

The waters surrounding tiny Shark Island in Chuuk are known as a 'cleaning station' for sharks.
They travel here to rid themselves of dead skin and parasites.
Villagomez: Chuuk is known to divers for its wrecks, but on this visit I was pleasantly surprised to hear about Shark Island. A name like that sure conjures up an image.

Hall: Well, can you think of a better name? I certainly can’t. The cleaning station is a magnet for sharks. You can see up to 25 here sometimes.

Villagomez: Are sharks common in Chuuk? How often do you see them?

Hall: You can see them on nearly every dive. Beyond the wrecks, there’s a good chance you’ll see a gray reef shark. A lot of times the divers are so interested in the wrecks that they won’t see the sharks swimming right over them.

A pair of blacktip reef sharks, accompanied by golden trevallies,
swim around Shark Island in Chuuk.
Villagomez: What species do you find most often?

Hall: We don’t see that many whitetip reefs, but we do see a lot of grays and blacktips. On the outreef, we’ll see silvertips and the occasional silky, down to about 30 meters depth. I once saw a tiger shark inside the lagoon.

Villagomez: How important are sharks to your business?

Hall: It is so important. The tourism industry is the only real industry we have here in Chuuk. One diver can bring in several thousand dollars per trip. They pay the diver fees, including the government’s $30 user fee, but they also stay in hotels, rent cars, and eat in our restaurants. Living sharks are worth far more than dead ones. Shark diving is a sustainable business, whereas commercial shark fishing is not. We can bring divers out to Shark Island every day, but a fisherman would only be able to fish it once and the sharks would be gone.

Villagomez: Are people pleased to see sharks swimming at Shark Island and in Chuuk in general?

Hall: I’m always surprised how many divers have never seen a shark, and I’m happy to give them the opportunity to go see them. And even for those who have seen sharks, most have never seen a cleaning station like Shark Island.


Building an Underwater Oasis for Sharks

During the Micronesian Chief Executives’ Summit in July 2011, representatives from Chuuk and other regions pledged to join a much larger effort to create the Micronesia Regional Shark Sanctuary. The agreement includes all four members of the Federated States of Micronesia—Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae—as well as the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Palau, and the Marshall Islands. Once established, it will result in a regional sanctuary covering 5 million square kilometers (2 million square miles).

For more than a year, the Pew Environment Group has been working with communities in FSM discuss the important role sharks play in their waters. On Sept. 21, 2012, Kosrae became the first state of Micronesia to make the commitment to protect sharks in its waters. The unanimous vote by the legislature in Kosrae, a small island of 7,700 people in the Pacific, is an important step toward creation of the regional shark sanctuary. The legislation now heads to Gov. Lyndon Jackson’s desk for signature.

For more information about the Pew Environment Group’s global shark conservation work, visit www.PewEnvironment.org/sharks.

The Truk Stop Hotel & Dive Center is a full-service Professional Association of Diving Instructors dive center on the island of Weno in Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia. For more information visit, www.dive-truklagoon.com.

Published by the Pew Environment Group on October 11, 20
12

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Protect Sharks and Manta Rays at CITES

Guest Blog
by AJ Sablan

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as CITES, is made up of 176 countries that meet every three years to draft up rules on the protection and management of, well, the international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora.

This international treaty protects endangered species like whales, dolphins, and turtles, but despite there being 150 shark species assessed as threatened or near threatened with extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, only three species of shark are listed by CITES. While there are national and regional protections for some species of sharks, CITES is the only international body that protects species on a global level.

Conservationists hope this situation will begin to change at the next Conference of the Parties to be held in Bangkok in March 2013. A diverse coalition of shark conservation countries has put forth proposals to protect five species of shark and two species of manta ray.

On behalf of the young people who love our ocean and want to see threatened sharks protected from extinction, thank you and congratulations to the forward thinking governments of Brazil, Comoros, Costa Rica, Colombia, Croatia, Ecuador, Egypt, Honduras, Mexico, the United States, and the 27 member States of the European Union for proposing these important animals for protection.

Gaining protections for each of these proposals requires 2/3 affirmative votes from the voting 176 members countries. If you would like to show your support to the leaders of your country, you can start by downloading these two graphics and sharing, tweeting, and pinning them to your social networks. In the weeks and months to come Shark Defenders will have more ways for you to help save the world’s sharks. You can also sign up to take the Shark Defenders Pledge so that we can email you directly for your help.

Alyssa Sablan is Shark Defender's student intern.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fiji Considers National Plan of Action for Sharks

Widespread concern over the lack of management of shark fisheries and declining shark populations led to the adoption and endorsement of the UN FAO International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA–Sharks) in 1999. This is aimed at ensuring the conservation and management of sharks and their long-term sustainable use, with particular emphasis on improving species-specific catch and landings data collection, and the monitoring and management of shark fisheries. The IPOA–Sharks recommends, inter alia, that all States contributing to fishing mortality on an elasmobranch species or stock should participate in its management, and should develop a National Shark Plan by 2001.


Fiji is in the midst of public consultations to draft a national plan of action for sharks.  From the Fiji Times:
FIJI will soon have a National Action Plan for sharks in Fiji.
Consultations are in progress at the Southern Cross Hotel in Suva to determine how these measures will be implemented.
Ian Freeman, fisheries management adviser of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agencies, said the consultations would enable stakeholders to build a plan for shark conservation and management in Fiji waters.
He said they wanted to ensure shark catches from directed and non-directed fisheries were sustainable and minimise the unutilised incidental catching of sharks.
He said participants from relevant authorities and NGOs would assess the threat to shark populations and implement harvesting strategies consistent with the principles of biological sustainability and rational long-term economic use.
"It is important that stakeholders learn how they could draft a plan and how they put those plans to practice," Mr Freeman said.
He said their major concern now was the Oceanic white-tip shark which topped the over fishing list in 2011.
From a graph presented yesterday, 939 sharks were caught by Fiji domestic long liners.
He said of these, 92 were Oceanic white-tip sharks.
Mr Freeman said the scenario was similar to other parts of the country where blue sharks, silky sharks and short fin mako sharks were over caught. The consultations will continue today.
It will be interesting to see how this process develops. While the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agencies reports that only 939 sharks were caught last year, this number does not include sharks released without their fins. This has been found to lead to increased mortality. The amount of illegal, unreported, and underreported sharks killed in Fiji is quite high, as evidenced by this trader who offers the undercover cameraman one ton of shark fin per month.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Share for Mantas


Brazil, Ecuador, and Colombia have put forth a proposal to list manta rays at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.  If successful, governments will have to manage the trade of these charismatic animals.  Want to show your support?  Post this photo to Facebook and Twitter.  You can Pin it, too.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pohnpei Manta Rays - GoPro HD


Diving with manta rays in Pohnpei and filming them with a GoPro HD. Wait for 00:39 to see how close they come to the divers.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Micronesia Speaks Up to Save Sharks


Sharks are rapidly disappearing from the world's oceans, primarily as a result of the demand for their fins, which are valued as a soup ingredient in some cultures. Each year, up to 73 million of these animals are killed by humans. However, advocates in the Pacific would like to put a stop to this activity.

Soon, an area covering more than 2 million square miles of the western Pacific Ocean—approximately two-thirds the size of the land area of the United States—is slated to become the world's largest shark sanctuary, and the first created through a regional agreement among governments. The resolution, which was negotiated last year, also authorizes the development of a regional ban on the possession, sale, and trade of shark fins in the waters of Palau, the Marshall Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the Federated States of Micronesia, which includes Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae.

This short video, produced by the Pew Environment Group, demonstrates the need for countries to implement the agreement and recounts the successful efforts of Guam, where thousands of students and other citizens spoke out about the importance of safeguarding these important keystone species.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Urgent Action Needed! Help Oceanic Whitetip Sharks

Oceanic whitetip sharks—one of the most recognizable sharks in the ocean—have undergone significant population declines fueled by a global demand for their large, highly valued fins. They are considered Vulnerable globally, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. In the Gulf of Mexico, oceanic whitetip populations have declined by 99 percent in just over four decades.

The United States signaled its intention to submit a proposal to list this shark species on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which provides strict regulation of trade. To date, no proposal has been submitted and the Oct. 4 deadline is rapidly approaching.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION

Your voice is critical and is needed now. Please write or call your members of Congress and the Secretary of the Interior to urge the United States to take action to protect oceanic whitetip sharks.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION

Small Island of Kosrae Joins Effort to Create Massive Shark Sanctuary

Kosrae has become the first member of the Federated States of Micronesia to establish shark protections in its waters. The unanimous vote by the legislature in Kosrae, a small island of 7,700 people in the Pacific, is an important step in the creation of the world’s first regional shark sanctuary, which will encompass 2 million square miles of ocean. The legislation now heads to Gov. Lyndon Jackson’s desk for signature.

“The protection of sharks fits into an even larger conservation goal for Micronesia,” said Governor Lyndon Jackson, “This goal, called the Micronesia Challenge, seeks to effectively conserve 30 percent of nearshore resources. But some species, especially sharks, swim in and out of protected areas, so additional policies are needed.”

When signed into law, the Kosrae sanctuary will ban the sale, trade, and possession of shark products in Kosrea and prohibit commercial shark fishing in the 12 mile area under its jurisdiction. Sen. Tulensa Palik, vice chairman of the state’s Committee on Resources and Development, introduced the bill.

“This is an extremely important piece of legislation,” said Palik. “I am proud to have Kosrae be a part of a global movement to protect sharks and the health of our ocean.”
In this video conservationists from Guam, Saipan, and the Marshall Islands talk about shark protections in the region:

During the Micronesian Chief Executive Summit in July 2011, Jackson and the other leaders pledged to join a much larger effort to create the Micronesia Regional Shark Sanctuary. The agreement includes all four members of the Federated States of Micronesia—Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae—as well as the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Palau, and the Marshall Islands. It will result in a regional sanctuary covering 2 million square miles.

“Micronesia is leading the world in shark conservation,” said Jill Hepp, director of shark conservation at the Pew Environment Group. “Kosrae is an important piece in the puzzle to protect sharks in the region.”

“Conservation has always been an integral part of life in Kosrae,” said Andy George, executive director of the Kosrae Conservation and Safety Organization. “This is something our people wanted.”
This video is from the Kosrae Chamber of Commerce:
Kosrae from LiquidAssets.tv on Vimeo.

Each year, up to 73 million sharks are killed by people, largely for their fins to supply the demand for shark fin soup. Of the 150 species of shark assessed as Threatened or Near Threatened with extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, at least 30 are known to swim in Micronesia’s waters, including scalloped hammerheads, whale sharks, oceanic whitetips, and several species of reef sharks.

If the other members of the Federated States of Micronesia move forward with their plan to create a sanctuary in the next year, 2.9 million square kilometers (1.1 million square miles) will be added to the more than 4.7 million square kilometers (1.8 million square miles) of ocean worldwide that have already been protected by six shark sanctuaries: Palau, the Maldives, Tokelau, Honduras, the Bahamas, and the Marshall Islands.
The President of the Marshall Islands and the Governor of Pohnpei discuss shark protections in this preview of Micronesia Sanctuary: The Last Stand for Sharks:
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