Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Review of Shark Defenders' Petitions

Since our inception in 2010, Shark Defenders has supported the petitions of our partners and friends, including petitions to ban the shark fin trade in Washington, win a research award for a shark scientist, and protect whale sharks from purse seiners on the high seas, oceanic whitetip and hammerhead sharks in US waters, and grey nurse sharks in Australia.  You have also posted countless petitions on our Facebook page, asking us to help you create protected areas for sharks, close down the trade of shark fins, and raise consumer awareness of eating shark.  We've offered up this blog to like-minded conservationists and have published guest posts from Fiji, Malaysia, The Bahamas, and Canada, all asking our supporters to protect sharks.

With all those blogs and facebook posts, you might not realize that we've only sponsored three petitions.  In January 2011 we asked you to support closing down the shark fin trade in Guam, in September 2011 we asked you to tell US President Barack Obama to ban the sale, trade, and possession of shark and shark parts, including shark fin, and this month we are asking you to support shark protections in southeastern Mexico.

14,829 of you signed our online petition to ban the sale of shark fin in Guam.  Another 300+ wrote emails and letters, which added to the thousands of signatures and letters from Guam students, set a record for testimony recieved on a pending bill in the Guam Senate.  So much testimony came in so fast, that according to Senator Rory Respecio, you crashed the blackberries of several senators and staffers.

A few months later, shark scientist David Shiffman gave a presentation on the use of Facebook, Twitter and blogs in the modern conservation movement as part of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group's "Securing the Future of Sharks and Rays" symposium at the International Marine Conservation Congress in Victoria, Canada.  He highlights the events in Guam last year (starts at 10:47).

Pow! How about them apples?

In September, we decided to take advantage of the Obama White House's new We The People initiative, and started a petition asking him to ban the sale, trade, and possession of shark and shark products, including shark fin.  According to the website, if we could garner 5,000 signatures within 30 days, the White House would issue a formal position on our petition.

The good news?  We got more than 5,000 signatures within the 30 day window.

The bad news?  Before the deadline, the Obama Administration changed the threshold to 25,000 signatures.  Super disappointing.

Several other petitions that passed the 5,000 threshold, but not the 25,000 threshold, recieved responses.  We weren't one of those lucky ones.  Again, super disappointing.

We are hoping that our third petition is more successful.  We have teamed up with some environmentalists in Mexico from an organization called Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental to ask President Felipe Calderón to pass protections. We are aiming for 5,000 signatures by the end of February, so will you help us? Write a blog, post to Facebook, and tweet away!


On February, 3, 2012, the White House responded to our petition!

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