Last week we told you about the students in Guam who have taken a stand to protect sharks on their island…again. Guam passed their shark protection law in 2011 and it has been working well since then. But now a federal U.S. agency—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—claims that Guam’s law conflicts with federal fishing rules and is therefore preempted by federal law. In other words, if the federal government gets its way, the protections that we enacted for sharks on Guam could be completely nullified.
With half of all shark species threatened or near-threatened with extinction, no one wants to see that happen, especially the students who fought so hard to get these protections three years ago.
Fortunately, this generation understands that the future of our oceans depends on healthy populations of sharks, and apathy is not an option. Guam students quickly jumped into action and started an online petition to show NOAA officials in Washington, DC and President Barack Obama that Guam wants to keep its shark protections and the federal government should stop meddling in local conservation efforts.
Our petition has already generated thousands of signatures and attracted the attention of international NGOs and media. But the effort to save local shark protection laws isn’t over yet. For those in Guam and elsewhere who want to do more to keep their local shark protection laws, there’s much more you can do to help. Here are some suggestions for additional steps that you can take after signing the petition:
Use social media to get the attention of elected officials: Tweet at Guam Governor, Eddie Calvo (@governorcalvo), and post on U.S. Representative Madeline Bordallo’s Facebook page and ask them to stand up for Guam and our sharks by making sure that NOAA doesn’t wipe out our local shark protections.
Let NOAA know you want to preserve shark protections: Write to decision makers at NOAA and politely ask them to preserve our local conservation laws. You can email Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator.
Write an email to local and national elected officials: Contact Guam Governor, Eddie Calvo, CNMI Governor Eloy Inos, and U.S. Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo and ask them to fight to preserve our local shark protections.
Write a letter to the editor. Write a short (250 words or fewer) letter to your local newspaper to help spread the word about the threat to shark protection laws. If you need help with talking points, check out this blog.