Friday, June 28, 2013

Obama Administration Doubles Down on Shark Fins

Yesterday NOAA Fisheries Service Pacific Islands Regional Office Regional Administrator Michael Tosatto was quoted saying, "Sharks are not a conservation issue." He continued, "There is little likelihood that the state would be able to prevent the landing, possession and sale of shark fins landed in Hawaii."

The Hawaii News Now story played on both NBC and CBS during the nightly news and was viewed by many thousands of people.

Do you believe us now that the 10 state and territorial shark fin bans are in danger of being overturned? Please help! We need you to sign a petition and to write a letter.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sign the #USAsharks Petition

Sherman is pitching in to help us defend the 10 state and territorial shark protection laws from being undermined by NOAA.  Sign the petition today!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Responses to Air Fiji's Shark Fin Ban

Suspect Shark Ban

National carrier Air Pacific yesterday announced a ban on the carriage of shark fins and shark-related products from "unsustainable and unverified sources".

And the airline has made a commitment to work with conservation partners and the fishing industry to ensure that all shark-related products that are ferried by the carrier are from sustainable sources.

The announcement comes in the wake of allegations made by the South China Morning Post in a news report last month that a "substantial amount" of shark fins imported to Hong Kong by air was ferried by Air Pacific.

In a statement issued by the airline, acting CEO Aubrey Swift said while the news report was inaccurate, Air Pacific decided to impose a ban after conducting a month-long review of freight policies relating to carriage of the controversial cargo.

"We have always understood that this is a sensitive and important matter," he said.

"Notwithstanding the gross inaccuracies and misleading reporting about this issue by some sections of the media, we recognise and accept our responsibilities on environmental and conservation issues and take them very seriously."

Mr Swift said the airline held discussions with freight forwarders, suppliers, fishing industry and sought the expertise of conservation organisations.

"Our findings indicate that Fijian-licensed vessels have documented standards in place on how to effectively manage this issue.

"The situation is not so clear for unlicensed or foreign vessels.

"After taking into account various considerations, our review highlights that we need clearer and stricter policies in place to ensure that suppliers only ship sustainably-sourced shark products.

"This is consistent with our overriding commitment to environmental protection and conservation efforts in Fiji."

"We believe a ban on the shipment of unsustainably-sourced shark fins is the right thing to do, and have implemented this policy effective immediately. We will now work with conservation partners and the fishing industry to prepare and implement policies and processes that will ensure that future shipments are sustainably sourced", Mr Swift added.

A letter opposing Air Pacific's shark cargo, signed by a coalition of environmental groups which included Animals Asia founder Jill Robinson and Ric O'Barry, star of the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove, was sent to the airline and quoted by South China Morning Post.

Arthur Sokimi, Fiji's field representative for the Coral Reef Alliance, said the ban was a step in the right direction.

"Now the work will be to ensure that fishing interests that are keen to profit from the trade in threatened species adhere to a rigorous and verifiable standard for proof of sustainability," he said.

"With Air Pacific joining Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, and Korean Airlines in banning the transport of shark fins, the message is growing increasingly obvious that sharks are worth far more alive to Fiji's economic future than they are dead in the holds of aircraft en route to Asia.

"We look forward to a future where Fiji's sharks are fully protected as they are not only critical to our tourism economy but, more importantly for us Fiji islanders, vital in ensuring the health of our marine ecosystem."

Published in the Fiji Times on June 25, 2013.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fiji Fishermen: Tuna was the bycatch; The sharks were our target

Sharks a Target Fishery

To say that sharks are only a bycatch is an understatement.

Sharks are the base fisheries for any tuna boat operator, according to former tuna fisherman Kaiafa Ledua, who spent six years on Chinese fishing boats around Fiji's archipelago.

They're targeted, not accidental catches as tuna boat operators claim and have successfully lobbied to continue catching despite serious concerns raised by conservationists who are warning the indiscriminate killing will eventually destroy Fiji's marine ecosystem.

Mr Ledua, who quit fishing and joined the Uto ni Yalo on its ocean voyages across the Pacific in 2010, said his days of relentless killing of sharks is a guilt he carries.

Today, he is a strong advocate of shark protection.

"Shark fishing is a big operation on tuna fishing boats," Mr Ledua said.

"As Fijians on board the Chinese fishing boats, we'd often talk about our traditional connection to the shark but when it came to going on deck and fish, we'd go for kill because of the money we made from each shark we caught.

"For us crew, tuna was the bycatch. The sharks were our target."

The crew, according to Mr Ledua, were paid triple of what they earned in salary as tuna fishermen.

"We'd get our wages and triple that as bonus for our sharks. It drove us to hunt the sharks."

Mr Ledua said tuna boat operators were prepared for shark hunting every time a boat sailed out to fish for tuna. Shark lines are tied to floaters and dropped to a depth above that which schools of tuna swim at.

"How much the Chinese prize the sharks is reflected in the extent they'd go to fish one. We'd use A-grade tuna meant for export as bait.

"If we dropped the tuna, we wouldn't be told off as when we'd drop a shark. We'd be blacklisted and told to leave the boat, or transferred to another, when we got to port."

Sharks caught in Fiji waters are finned, dried and sent to Hong Kong from where they are moved to the mainland for distribution.

Public awareness and pressure against killing sharks — whose populations are fast declining at 100 million kills in the last survey early this year — has led to countries putting in place legislation to safeguard them.

Mr Ledua said Fiji's citizens and the Ministry of Fisheries needed to do more to protect sharks.

He said his voyages on the Uto had showed that sharks kept alive were worth more than dead sharks. "Countries that protected sharks reaped financial rewards through tourism dollars. More important is the fact that sharks maintain the balance in the marine ecosystem."

Published in the Fiji Times on Monday, June 24, 2013.

Honolulu Star Advertiser: Don't weaken shark-fin bans


Hawaii was the first state to ban the hideous practice of ocean fishermen slicing off sharks' fins for use in a soup delicacy in Asian countries and throwing the still-alive bodies back to the sea. California, Washington and Oregon are among other states that have followed in banning the sale or distribution of shark fins — and these tough state laws should be aided, but not superseded, by proposed federal rules aimed at eliminating at-sea fin removal.

Sharks are in the news most often when a human is bitten, reminiscent of "Jaws," as was the case last week when a Kailua-Kona swimmer luckily made it back to shore after being attacked. By a long shot, though, sharks are more often victims than attackers. Up to an estimated 70 million sharks are slaughtered for their fins every year.

Three years ago, the Hawaii Legislature took bold action by making illegal the possession, sale or distribution of shark fins in the state. Several months later, President Barack Obama signed into law the Shark Conservation Act. Under the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration's proposed federal rules, fishing vessels would be prohibited from slicing off shark fins in federal waters and instead, be required to bring shark catches into U.S. docks with fins intact.

While not a total shark-fin ban, this proposal would at least make it more burdensome for shark-finners than the current cruel practice of lopping off fins in U.S. waters. Such a policy is needed as a hedge against the many states without tough shark-fin bans.

In addition to the brutality of the shark-fin mutilation, the diminishing of sharks could cause irreversible damage to the ocean's ecosystem since they play an important role in the balance of the marine environment.

Some environmentalists and Hawaii officials, including state Sen. Clayton Hee, who sponsored the Hawaii shark finning ban, have expressed concern that the federal law would preempt states laws.

"Rolling back those fin trade bans would be a considerable setback," said Jill Hepp, the Pew Charitable Trusts' director of shark conservation. "Those bans have had a positive impact. … It closed off these markets for fins in the world."

The key here is to preserve enlightened state laws that outright ban possession and selling of shark fins, while establishing a stringent federal law to make it more cumbersome for the trade.

The U.S. law would apply only to U.S. boats and waters but has global consequences, since it includes 200 miles around many U.S.- possession Pacific islands. Shark finning has been banned for years off the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in the expansion of the activity in the Pacific, although island nations of Micronesia, the Maldives, Palau and the Marshall Islands rightly have outlawed shark finning.

China and Japan are the leading consumers of shark fins, and many fins go to Hong Kong, Spain, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and United Arab Emirates. African countries are reported to be major exporters.

Michael Tosatto, NOAA's regional administrator, said pre-emption of states' laws, including Hawaii's, could depend on the interpretation of the states' shark-finning laws. But at this stage, the federal administration, which is taking public comment up to July 8, must find a way to keep intact Hawaii and other states' anti-shark-fin laws to bolster federal policy.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Shark Conservation Tipping Point

Rob Stewart and Shawn Heinrichs on Saipan with local conservationists.
Rob Stewart, director of Sharkwater and Revolution, has thrown his hat into the effort to keep the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from overturning the state and territory shark fin trade bans.  This letter appears in newspapers on Saipan and Guam:
To my friends in Saipan, Guam, and the United States of America:

I am disappointed that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has proposed language in rules implementing the Shark Conservation Act that would overturn hard fought shark protection measures in the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and other states and territories.

The story of the passage of the law in the Northern Mariana Islands is a highlight of my new film Revolution, so believe me when I say that your stories have inspired the world because I have seen it firsthand. You may be disappointed in this dark hour, but I hope I can offer some encouragement.

Your stories inspire because there was no guarantee you would win. Saipan was only the second place in the world to ban shark fins. Guam was only the third. And you worked hard for those wins. You wrote letters. You signed petitions. You met with lawmakers and begged your governors for their support. And it worked. The world is beginning to follow your lead.

And now you have to work again to protect your sharks. Now is not the time to backtrack on progress. It won’t be easy and there is no guarantee you will win, but I expect you to give it your all.

The federal government is accepting comments on their proposed rule until July 9. Go write some letters. Sign a petition. Contact your leaders. Many of you are voters now. Make your voice heard.

The last time you rose up to protect sharks you overcame the opposition of those who think sharks only have value in a bowl of soup. I believe you can do it again.


Rob Stewart
You can help Rob protect sharks by signing the petitions of the Pew Charitable Trusts and Oceana. We are also compiling letters and will ensure that they are received by the right people.  The official announcement in the Federal Register contains instructions on how to submit your letter using an online form, fax, or mail, but we encourage you to send us a copy of your letter at  If you need help, we can send you talking points.  You can also use some of the information found on the Pew Charitable Trusts petition or our previous blog on this issue.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Manta Reina & Miss Scuba International

Onon and Leah with Jamie at our booth at CITES.
Miss Scuba International Jamie Piyada Monmaneerat dropped us a note recently to let us know what she's been up to since the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Bangkok this past March.

"Leah gave me Manta Reina and I promised to take her with me on my Ms. Scuba journey. Here are some photos of Manta Reina and me during some of my missions in saving our ocean. She is now my extra dive buddy, who I introduce to everyone I meet on the diving boat.   She is a permanent resident in my BCD pocket and she travels with me wherever and whenever I go diving."

"I came across The Adventures of Shark Stanley and Friends story book during the Thailand Dive Expo and I completely fell in love with it!  Education and raising awareness are the most important things and they are our last answers to survival, our hope to help us maintain what we have left right now. "

"I travel to coastal communities in Thailand to educate the local children as the ocean is their front and backyard, so we need to educate them and raise the awareness and their love for their home."

"Lastly, I would like to thank you and all members of Shark Defenders for all your hard work and efforts to protect our ocean and our ocean friends, I am truly inspired by you all."

Saturday, June 15, 2013

US Congress Asks for Extension of Comment Period on Shark Conservation Act

The United States Congress has asked the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to extend the deadline for commenting on proposed rules implementing the Shark Conservation Act.  It makes sense to extend the deadline considering the large number of states and territories affected, as well as the time needed to conduct legal analyses.  The current deadline comes the day after July 4 weekend, when many Americans are traveling to celebrate 238 years of freedom and liberty.

We encourage you to sign the petitions of The Pew Charitable Trusts, Oceana, and Humane Society International.  They are leading a coalition of organizations working to keep USA shark laws from being undermined.  We also encourage you to write a letter directly to NOAA.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Micronesian States Vote to Declare Shark Sanctuaries

Yap State includes two dozen coral atolls and raised coral islands stretching across approximately 800 kilometers (500 miles) of Western Pacific Ocean.
Great news from The Pew Charitable Trusts:

Pohnpei and Yap, two of the Federated States of Micronesia, or FSM, are moving to declare their waters shark sanctuaries. Each state’s senate has voted to ban the fishing, sale, trade, and possession of sharks within its waters. The governors of each—John Ehsa of Pohnpei and Sebastian Anefal of Yap—are expected to sign the measures into law. With these new shark protections in place, Chuuk would be the only FSM state to allow shark fishing.

Angelo Villagomez of The Pew Charitable Trusts with Mary Linda Salvador and Eugene Joseph of the Conservation Society of Pohnpei.
“The senators and community members who worked for two years on these laws are to be commended for taking this important step in protecting sharks,” said Angelo Villagomez, a shark conservation expert with The Pew Charitable Trusts. “Yap and Pohnpei are critical for ending the unsustainable fishing of sharks in the Pacific.”

The islands of Pohnpei are ringed by coral reefs.  Sharks play an important role in maintaining healthy reefs.  Protections allows sharks to fill their ecological niche as apex predators, helping to maintain ocean health.
These actions by the two states move the region a step closer to the creation of the Micronesia Regional Shark Sanctuary, which would prohibit commercial fishing of sharks across a swath of ocean nearly as large as the European Union. The effort began at a 2011 meeting of the Micronesian Chief Executive Summit. There, the governors and presidents of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, the Territory of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands agreed to create contiguous sanctuaries across the islands’ exclusive economic zones. Once Chuuk and the national government of the FSM implement their sanctuaries, the regional sanctuary will stretch across about 6.5 million square kilometers (2.5 million square miles) of the Pacific.

The Federated States of Micronesia patrol their waters and regularly arrest illegal fishing vessels.  This vessel was apprehended for fishing without its VMS
To help in enforcement of shark protections, the Federated States of Micronesia has signed a “shiprider” pact with the United States that allows its officers to conduct fisheries enforcement with the support of the U.S. Coast Guard. The Pew Charitable Trusts also helps conduct enforcement trainings for governments that have banned commercial fishing for sharks.

Map: Micronesia Regional Shark Sanctuary
Note: Once Chuuk and the national government of the Federated States of Micronesia implement a sanctuary, the regional sanctuary will stretch across about 6.5 million square kilometers (2.5 square miles) of Pacific Ocean.

#USAsharks Are Heating Up

Proposed rules implementing the Shark Conservation Act could undermine state shark protections.
The leading shark conservation organizations are all in agreement that the Shark Conservation Act should not be used to undermine shark protections in the US states and territories with shark fin trade bans.  The Pew Charitable Trusts, Oceana, and Humane Society International have started gathering signatures and comments and we encourage you to sign all three.  As new petitions come online, we will make you aware of them.

The story has started to gather considerable media attention.  Outlets in Australia, Guam, American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands have already run stories.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sign Humane Society's Petition, Too

Humane Society International has joined The Pew Charitable Trusts and Oceana in creating a petition to oppose the undermining of the 10 state and territorial shark fin trade bans.  We encourage you to sign all three petitions, and to write a letter.

NOAA Comments on Shark Fin Bans

In this story from KSPN2 in the Northern Mariana Islands, Kitty Simonds from the NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service discusses her agency's opposition to the state shark fin trade bans.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sign Oceana's Petition, Too

Oceana has joined The Pew Charitable Trusts in creating a petition to oppose the undermining of the 10 state and territorial shark fin trade bans.  We encourage you to sign both petitions.



If an 8 year old can write a letter to Obama, so can you!

Nick Silverstein is an 8 year old shark activist from Queens, New York.  He's been featured in a couple of local newspaper and television stories, but now he's going national.

The United States' government recently proposed to backtrack on shark conservation progress achieved over the past several years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is proposing a rule that, if approved as is, has the potential to overturn the shark protections passed by California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, Washington state, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Thousands of environmentalists and students who supported the passage of these laws have initiated a letter writing campaign to stop this backtracking from taking place.  We are asking NOAA to not preempt, and thus overturn, the shark protections in the states with a federal rule.  We have to stop these activist rulemakers!

Nick's letter to President Obama is below and it provides a perfect example of how to write a comment letter.  In three simple paragraphs he (1) introduces himself and explains why the President should listen to him, (2) gives some background information on the issue, and (3) makes a specific ask on how to amend the proposed regulations.  Nick's letter is also handwritten and contained to a single page, which is preferable.

So if an 8 year old kid living in Queens can write a letter to the President, what's stopping you?

We are compiling letters and will ensure that they are received by the right people.  The official announcement in the Federal Register contains instructions on how to submit your letter using an online form, fax, or mail, but we encourage you to send us a copy of your letter at  If you need help, we can send you talking points.  You can also use some of the information found on the Pew Charitable Trusts petition or our previous blog on this issue.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

This Is Sustainable Shark Fishing?

These photos were taken in Kesennuma in Miyagi prefecture in Japan. They show blue sharks being landed. This is a daily scene.  Kesennuma is in the media today.

In response to protesters demonstrating against the sale of shark fin soup outside their stores, Muji, a retailer in Japan, has issued a statement announcing their intent to continue the sale of the soup.

Muji's gives three reasons for ignoring the protesters.  They argue that (1) sharks landed at Kesennuma, where they source 70% of their fins, are landed whole and are not finned, that (2) blue sharks are not threatened with extinction, and that (3) there are no regulations for the fishing of blue sharks other than banning finning, which is not occurring at Kesennuma.

They go on to state that they are supporting the shark industry in Kesennuma because they are a local industry and to support victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

So is this sustainable?  The lack of regulations does not necessarily mean that they are not needed.  Muji may be following the rules, but they could do more to change them.

ACTION ALERT: Obama Administration Proposes a Step Backward in Shark Conservation

Is the United States a world leader in shark conservation? You may have thought so, but it recently proposed to backtrack on progress achieved over the past several years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is proposing a rule that, if approved as is, has the potential to overturn the shark protections passed by California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, Washington state, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.


The Shark Conservation Act of 2010 closed loopholes in the previous U.S. shark finning law by requiring that sharks be landed at port with their fins naturally attached to their bodies. To further protect sharks, some states and territories passed additional legislation. In most locations, these measures ban the possession, sale, and trade of shark fins. Implementing the provisions of the Shark Conservation Act should not be used to overturn state laws that are more protective than federal law.

Regulations by the states and territories to protect sharks are not in conflict with federal law. The U.S. government should implement the Shark Conservation Act as intended, without undermining state conservation measures.

Want more information?

Here is the official announcement of the proposed rule.  You'll notice it is buried in page 25,685 of the Federal Register.  Discussion of the state laws begins on the second page.  The proposed regulations contain language that could undermine the state and territory shark fin trade bans.  Specifically, the Agency is claiming that the state and territory laws may interfere with achievement of the Magnuson-Stevens Act's purposes and objectives and therefore are preempted.  The deadline for comments was initially June 17, but it is expected to be extended until July 8.

We need thousands of our supporters from the 10 affected states and territories, as well as from around the world, to tell NOAA not to include text in the Shark Conservation Act implementing regulations that undermine the state and territory laws.

The Pew Charitable Trusts has set up an easy online comment form and will deliver your comments and signatures before the deadline.


This petition meets all the criteria from our blog How to Write an Effective Online Petition.  There is a specific ask (don't overturn the state and territory laws), it is targeted to the government official making the decision (NOAA), and it will be delivered.  We encourage you to sign to show your support.

However, if you would like to do more, we would like to hear from you.  Can you write a letter to your newspaper, especially if you live in one of the 10 affected states or territories?  Can you call a local reporter to see if they will write a story?  Do you want to write your own formal comment letter -- the most effective means of commenting on this issue?  Contact us at and we will help you.

Friday, June 7, 2013

We're collecting donations for Marshall Islands drought relief

Alyssa Sablan and Eden Villagomez
Although we never ask for donations for our campaigns, today we sent out this email to our supporters asking them to donate to drought relief in the Marshall Islands.  Any help you can give either donating or spreading the word of our small fundraiser would be much appreciated.
Shark Defenders has worked with friends in the Marshall Islands to support their shark sanctuary, one of the largest in the world. The Marshallese have championed the protection of sharks, but today some of their islands are facing a natural disaster. Basic human needs are not being met and they need our help.


15 islands in the Marshall Islands have been experiencing drought conditions for the last several months and have run out of water. They are receiving international aid, but there is a role for the average person (that's you and me) to play. Shark Defenders has partnered up with Women United Together in the Marshall Islands to purchase water, canned goods, and powdered milk for the affected atolls. We told them we'd work with our friends and supporters to raise $1,000. We are about half way there.

We've set up an campaign to collect the money. Can you donate $5, the cost of a bottle of water?

Thank you for your support,

Eden Blanco Villagomez & Alyssa Sablan
Radio Australia interviewed Tom Vance, National Water Advisor for the Marshall Islands, who explains how the water shortage is creating unrest in the islands.  Once we finish collecting, we will have your donations delivered to the Marshall Islands by the end of this month.

Finally: EU Closes Shark Finning Loopholes

These German Shark Stanley fans are excited about the EU shark fin ban.
Following years of debate around the need to close loopholes in the 2003 European Union ban on shark finning—the wasteful practice of slicing off a shark’s fins and discarding the body at sea—the EU finally adopted a regulation Thursday requiring that all sharks be brought to port with their fins naturally attached.

The decision, welcomed by The Pew Charitable Trusts-coordinated Shark Alliance, is the culmination of a nearly seven-year campaign for stronger shark conservation measures with the support of thousands of concerned EU citizens.

The new EU regulation closes the loophole in the 2003 ban that had allowed fishermen with permits to remove shark fins on board vessels and land them separately from the bodies. Compliance with the finning ban was monitored through a complicated process of measuring and comparing the weights of the fins with the theoretical weight of the whole shark. That left significant room for undetected shark finning.

Prohibiting at-sea removal of the fins, and requiring that sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached, is widely regarded as the most reliable means for implementing a shark finning ban. The new strategy also allows for improved, species-specific landing data, essential for population assessment and fisheries management.

The Shark Alliance coalition, founded in 2006, has grown to more than 130 organisations across Europe and around the world. As well as working directly with decision-makers, the alliance initiated European Shark Week, an annual series of events across Europe to raise awareness about the plight of sharks, engage the public, and motivate politicians to improve shark conservation policies.

In 2009, the Shark Alliance won a major victory when the EU adopted a “Plan of Action” for the conservation and management of sharks. That set the stage for sweeping improvements in shark fishing and protection policies. But the plan remained unfinished business without concrete measures to reduce shark mortality, including science-based, precautionary catch limits and protection for endangered species. While the Shark Alliance made good progress in advocating for these measures, the top priority remained closing loopholes in the EU shark finning ban.

With the support of the Shark Alliance, four Members of the European Parliament, or MEPS, launched an initiative in 2010 calling on the European Commission to propose an end to at-sea removal of shark fins. The initiative was adopted that December as a Resolution of Parliament with the support of 423 MEPs.

In November 2011, after consulting on options for change and receiving overwhelming support for action, the Commission proposed closing the loopholes in the EU shark finning ban and amending the regulation to require that all sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached. To enter into force, the full proposal had to be agreed to by the Council of EU Fisheries Ministers and the Parliament.

The Council of Fisheries Ministers gave its support in March 2012, with only Spain and Portugal opposing the changes. Deliberations in the European Parliament were lengthy and at times confused, with several MEPs fighting hard to maintain the loopholes. But in November 2012, the EU Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of requiring that fins be left naturally attached to all sharks brought to port.

With Thursday’s decision, the Council of Ministers formally adopted the legislative text approved by the Parliament, concluding the process to establish a new EU regulation. The regulation will go into effect seven days after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

“We congratulate the EU fisheries ministers, the European Parliament, and the European Commission for achieving an agreement that finally closes all loopholes in the EU finning ban, and thank the numerous groups and individuals who campaigned over many years for such an outcome,” said Sandrine Polti, an expert with the Pew Environment Group’s European marine programme and a policy adviser for the Shark Alliance.

Beneath the Waves On Tour

Last summer we teamed up with Beneath the Waves Film Festival to show several short films in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands.  They have several more showings come up this year in countries around the world.  Do you live in any of the towns listed above?  More information on the showings can be found at

We are excited that our short film Sharkwater Saipan will be shown at the screenings in Perth, Australia later this month. The event is being organized by Ryan Kempster, a student at University of Western Australia, and it will be hosted in conjunction with Support our Sharks.

Produced by Rob Stewart and Angelo Villagomez, Sharkwater Saipan tells the story of Kathy Pagapular's sixth grade class at San Vicente Elementary School and how a class project led to the world's second shark fin trade ban. The video features interviews with Kathy and the students, as well as Representative Diego Benavente and Beautify CNMI's Cinta Kaipat.

Unfortunately, all that hard work to get the Northern Mariana Island's law (as well as nine others) in place could be unraveled by an implementing rule of the United States Shark Conservation Act that is buried in the pages of the Federal Register. Our conservation partners are conducting legal reviews and preparing ways for you to provide testimony to keep this from happening. Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Congrats, Students!

Joe Soledad waited all day to testify for sharks in Guam in 2011.  He wasn't able to speak until after 10 PM.
We got a note this morning that the class of 2013 at Simon Sanchez High School in Guam will receive their diplomas on Saturday. It was two short years ago that many of these seniors helped pass the United States' third shark fin trade ban.

Joe Soledad is one of the students graduating this weekend. Joe's been featured in two shark videos. We made the above video with Shawn Heinrichs. Joe appears at the end, giving some of the best testimony shark conservation has ever seen. The below video was produced by the Pew Charitable Trusts and local Guam production company Shooting Star. Joe's featured in that one, too.

Unfortunately, all that hard work to get Guam's law (as well as nine others) in place could be unraveled by an implementing rule of the United States Shark Conservation Act that is buried in the pages of the Federal Register. Our conservation partners are conducting legal reviews and preparing ways for you to provide testimony to keep this from happening. Stay tuned.

So Joe, take the weekend to enjoy your well deserved accomplishment. But the sharks are going to need you again on Monday.

Blast Zone Shark Park

Shark Park

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Provide Drought Relief to the People of the Marshall Islands

Currently a state of emergency has been called for the Northern Atolls of the Republic of Marshall Islands, in response to a long drought bringing about a critical shortage of water. This is a direct impact of climate change in the Pacific that is happening now. There are 15 northern islands experiencing real threats of increased droughts, fresh water shortages, sanitation problems, food security, and increased salinity of fresh water lenses. It is a clear and present danger.


Women United Together in the Marshall Islands is organizing a cash donation drive to purchase gallons of water, canned goods, and powdered milk. Shark Defenders will send funds from this online drive to WUTMI so that they can purchase the goods.

The Marshall Islands are home to one of the world's largest shark sanctuaries. Our friends there are suffering and they need our help.

Please consider making a donation. More information on the drought can be found here:

Please make a donation using Indiegogo.  If you have any questions, please email us at info at sharkdefenders dot com.

Monday, June 3, 2013

First-Ever National Ranking Shows Most Coastal States Failing to Protect Oceans

Today two leading marine science and conservation organizations, the Marine Conservation Institute and Mission Blue, issued the 1st-ever quantitative, scientifically rigorous national ranking of states’ protection of their ocean waters. SeaStates: How Well Does Your State Protect Your Coastal Waters? shows that most states and territories are failing to safeguard our nation’s marine life, seafood and coasts.

Oceans are crucial to our health and economy. Coastal counties include only 5.71% of the area in the lower 48 states but generate 35.54% of the Gross Domestic Product. Indeed, coastal counties generate $7,992 more GDP per person than inland and Great Lakes counties.

“Despite so many threats to their health, states are failing to protect our ocean waters,” said Dr. Lance Morgan, President of the Marine Conservation Institute. “No-take marine protected areas are the gold-standard for healthy oceans, but far too few states and territories are designating them.”

SeaStates measures the percentage of state’s waters they strongly protect. Being free from fishing, oil drilling and other extractive uses allows marine life in no-take marine reserves to thrive and recover their former abundance. That’s crucial because marine animals and plants maintain healthy oceans essential to people. As coastal areas face increasing overfishing and climate change, strong marine protected areas maintain biodiversity, fisheries and coastal economies. Dozens of studies show that no-take marine reserves provide more effective protection than weaker protected areas, often providing an overflow of marine life into surrounding waters. Many marine scientists recommend designating at least 20% of state waters as no-take areas as the best way to sustain ocean health.

“Whether you love our oceans for their beauty, for their fishes and marine mammals or for generating half of the oxygen we breathe, you should want them to be strongly protected. But most states in this report get a score of zero and only a handful are protecting even 1%. That’s not good enough when our oceans are facing grave threats like overfishing and pollution. America’s oceans and people deserve better,” said eminent marine biologist and President of Mission Blue, Dr. Sylvia Earle. “The United States has a long way to go if we want to be a world-leader in marine conservation.”

SeaStates shows that 15 coastal states (AL, AK, CT, DE, GA, LA, MD, MA, MS, NH, NJ, NY, RI, SC, TX) out of 23 have no (zero) no-take areas. Six states (FL, OR, WA, NC, VA, and ME) have designated barely 1% or much less of their coastal waters as no-take areas. Only 2 states strongly protect over 5% of their waters in no-take reserves. Hawaii ranks 1st for ocean protection with 22.9% fully protected (most inside the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument), while California ranks 2nd with 8.7%.

“SeaStates shows that very few places are getting the protection they need” said Dr. Morgan “and most states are doing a very poor job of safeguarding your oceans. It’s time for that to change. Seabirds, whales, groupers and deep sea corals all need refuges where we do everything possible to protect them.”

The science team at Marine Conservation Institute compiled SeaStates using, the world’s best information source on marine protected areas.

To read the full report visit
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