Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fijian Sharks Holding Collective Breath

According to the Fiji Times, the Cabinet will consider the Fiji Shark Sanctuary decree on Tuesday, July 30, 2012.  Previous reports stated the decree would be taken up yesterday. From the Fiji Times:
THE Ministry of Fisheries will make its submission to Cabinet on July 30 for the proposed legislation to turn Fiji's 1.2 million square kilometre Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) into a shark sanctuary.

Deputy permanent secretary of Fisheries Penina Cirikiyasawa confirmed this, saying they were happy with the draft submission.

"We will be giving the copy of the submission to the Minister of Fisheries Joketani Cokanasiga by the end of this week," she said.

"The only change that could be made is recommendations from the minister himself. Other than that, we have already had consultations with the industry stakeholders and other relevant stakeholders and we are pleased with the draft that has been compiled.
The Fijian government has been considering shark protections since 2009 and has engaged with the Coral Reef Alliance and Pew Environment Group since December 2010 to conduct stakeholder consultations, including four rounds of consultation with the fishing industry, gather data, support research, including research that is identifying endangered scalloped hammerhead nursing grounds, and organize outreach activities, including the production and distribution of Shark Hope, a Fijian-made film about the importance of sharks to Fiji's culture, environment, and economy.

The Fiji Shark Defenders, a coalition headed by the Division of Fisheries, The Fiji Times, CORAL, and Pew, recently concluded a shark art contest for World Ocean's Day.  The winners of the contest received school supplies and had their photos and stories in the Fiji Times.  Additionally, entire schools have taken on the shark sanctuary campaign and organized their curricula around sharks.  The Suva Multiple Intelligence school in Suva was recently interviewed about what they have been doing all year:
Students from Classes One to Nine are encouraged to learn all aspects of shark conservation, including statistics, scientific terms as well as creating their own perceptions about the worldwide conservation efforts to protect sharks.

The school's co-founder Doctor Robin Taylor, through this shark conservation project, says his students are able to learn other subjects like mathematics and English as well as other skills that are applicable in real life.

"For the upper classes we have a puppet video production and the students have to write the screenplay, design the storyboard, write the dialogue and shoot the video of the puppets. These skills are real-life skills and they're learning it through this shark project," Dr Taylor says.

"The teachers can only suggest and supervise their activities but the students themselves come up with the original writing.

"Another example will be they get to learn how much shark fin costs as compared to one pound of tuna per square inch. By calculating this they are learning mathematics," Dr Taylor adds.
There is still time for you to participate in the creation of the Fiji Shark Sanctuary. Here are five simple things you can do right now to help:

1. Take the Fiji Shark Defenders pledge. We'll add you name to our petition, and call on you if we need your help. We will also inform you as soon as Fiji's sharks become protected.

2. Write a short letter to the Fiji Times and Fiji Sun explaining why you support shark protections.  Say you want to see full protections with no loopholes.  If you don't live in Fiji, say that you can't wait to come visit our sharks. Email your letter to: editor@fijitimes.com.fj and letters@fijisun.com.fj

3. Write a letter to the Fiji Director of Fisheries Sanaila Naqali thanking him for standing up for sharks, and encouraging full protections for Fiji's sharks including a ban on the commercial fishing, sale, trade, possession, and transshipment of shark and shark products, and retention of sharks caught as incidental bycatch. Mail your letter to: Director Sanaila Naqali; PO BOX 2218; Government Buildings; Suva, Fiji Islands.

4. Post our public service announcements to your Facebook wall. PSA #1 and PSA #2 talk about the importance of sharks, while PSA #3 (starring shark champion Senator Tony DeBrum from the Marshall Islands) talks about the importance of banning bycatch and transshipment.

5. Update your Facebook and Twitter status to I love Fiji Sharks #FijiMe #Finsanity Please Like, Share, and ReTweet the message every time you see it.

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