Friday, August 29, 2014
In this blog I’d like to touch on a shark project titled ‘Jupiter’ which is led annually by the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation (BBFSF) team, or ‘Sharklab,' as they’re affectionately known. This project, based in Jupiter, Florida, is a 12 week annual assignment that runs between January and April.
The objective of this project is to catch mature lemon sharks (> 12-13 years of age) in a known and familiar aggregation site. Once caught, tissue samples (fin clips and blood) are taken for DNA and stable isotope analysis, along with measurements. The sharks are also internally tagged with an acoustic device. Sharks are also marked with a PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tag injected into the muscle next to the dorsal fin and externally tagged (National Marine Fishery Service, NMFS dart tag).
An acoustic tag is approximately as long as your index finger. It is inserted (through quick surgery) into the shark's body cavity under the muscle near the pelvic fins. An acoustic tag transmits a signal every 5 minutes and can stay active, transmitting data for up to 10 years. A large array of static receivers logging the transmitters of many sharks allows scientists to determine when the sharks form the aggregation (i.e. at specific times of day, during the summer / winter? etc) and also migratory patterns which for this particular project is crucial. A receiver is a mini-hydrophone housed in a 'techy tube' which listens for and records data from a tagged animal. The limitation with this type of tagging is marine life is only detected within a 500 meter radius of a receiver's location. This method is ideal for the Jupiter project as it allows scientists to target the aggregation with the data collected contributing towards the protection of valuable breeding sharks.
So, onto the juicy stuff! I was fortunate enough to spend a day on the boat with the BBFSF team and Captain Jo Fraser. What a day we had! The sun was shining and sea was calm and peaceful, the ideal fishing conditions! But, would we be lucky?
Task number one; like all fishing you need bait so bait cutting was the first job on the cards! Messy. The second task was setting the ‘poly ball’ lines. What are they? ‘Poly balling’ is basically just large-scale float fishing with a hook on one end and float on the surface that we can monitor from the surface. A huge benefit of this technique includes the shark's ability to swim freely, they’re not limited to a fixed location like in drum lining. This technique also reduces a shark’s hook time as it is very common for those fishing with poly balls to witness float separation/movement (you set the poly balls in a straight line so notice misalignment) and usually you’ll see a buoy/float moving through the water the moment a shark is caught. This means you catch ‘fresh’ sharks resulting in minimal anxiety and upset.
Regardless of buoy/float movement the lines are checked every hour. There’s a fine line between checking lines later and running the risk of possibly stressing a hooked shark verses checking the lines too often and disturbing/putting off any sharks interested in your bait. The Sharklab's numerous years of experience has provided the optimum timescale to check the hooks; the balance of shark safety and shark research. Finally the last task was to wait. It’s rather exciting watching the balls waiting for movement, just like rod and reel fishing you watch your float patiently and question even the slightest bob!
Within no time the first line went and it was a huge 3m+ great hammerhead! Great hammerheads are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Redlist. These Hammers are in serious trouble and with minimal scientific data for them, little can be done in protecting them at the moment.
Hammerheads are known for their sensitivity; It’s regrettably very common for great hammers to die on fishing lines or after release of big game fishing. They simply can’t handle the stress. The Sharklab, however, has a 100% success rate with 0% mortality on hammerhead captures in Jupiter, which is a rare and wonderful achievement! So, back to it; we brought the shark to the side of the boat quickly and safely to assess how she was doing. As the shark appeared somewhat stressed, no samples were taken. We noted her sex, estimated her length, and she was released immediately. It was amazing to see a team of scientists and students releasing a shark with minimal data to ensure the animal was safe. Any inclination the shark could get stressed meant the shark was released without hesitation. Shark safety was paramount. Sounds obvious? Imagine you were the scientist who required the data, would you be so quick to release the shark with the burning temptation to take samples which only take a few minutes? I was inspired and grateful to be surrounded by true shark lovers.
Fishing continued. Another line went. As always we shouted out our guesses as we all impatiently fixed our eyes on the water eager to see what we’d caught! What a sight, we all spotted the stripes as a big tiger shark cruised to the surface.
Tigers are known for being quite 'hardy' and resilient and they are one of the rare sharks that appear to be unphased (within reason) by scientists handling them. Bizarrely the tigers we caught in Jupiter were covered in some kind of slime which I hadn’t seen before. I was unsure if it was perhaps a type of defensive reaction as we were catching them so fresh? I struggled to grip them with just my hands so gloves were used for a better grip, something new to me! All details were taken this time and the shark swam off strong within 15 minutes of capture.
Next up was another hammer. This time we watched the polly ball blast through the water like a scene from JAWS! As we witnessed the ‘bite’ we had the shark secured to the boat in under 7 minutes! We placed her into tonic (i.e. upside down) and conducted a full ‘work up’. This beauty swam away strong. Such an amazing experience seeing the detail of these hammers so closely.
As we rebaited our lines we saw another ball move. This time it was another firey tiger, measuring just 210cm. This guy was full of life as sub-adult Tigers are notoriously known for having a bit of an attitude! Another full work up and off he swam.
Total sharks caught on the day: Three hammerheads ranging from 250-330 and two Tigers 210 and 260. Yep, that’s right no Lemon sharks (sad face). All data was logged and all sharks were released swimming away healthy and powerfully.
So with the sunlight fading it was time to head home. Once at the docks we off loaded our gear from the boat and cleaned every piece of equipment, down to the pencils! It’s hard to keep motivated after a tiring, yet exciting and long day in the sun but all equipment must be cleaned with fresh water as the sea salt practically destroys everything in its path with its incredibly aggressive, corrosive nature.
With all equipment cleaned and with dinner in the local diner consumed our work was done. A great day fishing and five sharks contributing towards research. In fact, since the above day took place the Sharklab's scientific data from the Jupiter sharks has gone on to protect the aggregation. An incredible result that has restricted the commercial fishing season, allowing the mature lemons to receive the protection they so rightly deserve during key mating months. How fantastic is that!!
Well another blog complete. In my next post I’ll be writing about my diving experience with notorious shark diver and world record holding freediver Mr William Winram. I can’t wait to share that with you all!
The Bimini Biological Field Station Sharklab depends on the efforts of dedicated volunteers to accomplish our research. Since its 1990 inception, the BBFS Sharklab has been host to thousands of volunteers from all over the globe. Annie Anderson blogs at Sharks Need Love.
Friday, August 22, 2014
Can't get enough of shark sanctuaries? Here are some photos from the Huffington Post.
Monday, August 18, 2014
Friday, August 15, 2014
Also tonight, Sylvia Earle's new film about Hope Spots, Mission Blue, is going to premier on Netflix. We encourage you to join us in skipping Megalodon and instead, please turn to Netflix and watch Sylvia's movie about her lifetime of science and conservation. We'll start livetweeting at 9 PM EST (that's 6 PM for all of you living in California and past your bedtime for everyone living in Europe).
Here's more information about the movie from Mission Blue:
We’re tremendously excited to announce that the Mission Blue Film is going live on Netflix today! While Dr. Earle has been spreading her message of hope for years, we believe that in the coming days this message — our Mission Blue — is going to leap to the next level of awareness in the global public consciousness.
With the documentary, directed by Robert Nixon and Fisher Stevens available in 40+ countries, we anticipate that Dr. Earle’s simple message of ocean conservation, of respect for our planet and what sustains us, will reverberate through the homes and hearts of Netflix’s global audience. We hope that a public awakening to the dire state of our ocean — and what we can do to save it — will propel personal decisions and public policy that favors the future of our ocean and ourselves.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, “It’s her natural charisma and infectious enthusiasm that are most compelling on screen. As the foremost American women oceanographer, she became a standard-bearer among female field-research scientists, while also marrying and raising a family, long before the term “supermom” ever entered the lexicon.”
The Mission Blue Film offers a 360-view not only of what’s happened to our oceans over the last half decade, but also of Dr. Sylvia Earle's quest to raise awareness in the global public about ocean decline. As we all know, it’s not Dr. Earle’s style to leave her supporters despondent and hopeless about the future of the ocean. Indeed, the film reaffirms the straightforward approach of creating a global network of marine protected areas — Hopespots! — large enough to save the ocean, Earth’s blue heart.
So get to a television or computer today and watch the Mission Blue Film! Afterwards, make sure to engage us on social media using the hashtags #missionblue and #hopespots or on our website and let us know what you think.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
|Palau is "The World's First Shark Sanctuary"|
|There are three shark sanctuaries in the Caribbean.|
|The Maldives became the worlds second shark sanctuary in 2010.|
#FakeSharkWeekFacts has really taken off on Twitter. Topsy says that there have been more than 1000 #FakeSharkWeekFacts tweets in the last week. The most influential tweet comes from a planetary astronomer at UC Berkeley (wow!).
But that tweet is so last year (even if it holds the all time most influential crown). This year's most influential tweet (so far) comes from George T. Probst of The Dorsal Fin:
Sharks believe humans have medicinal properties, and often only bite off specific parts for use in traditional remedies. #FakeSharkWeekFacts— Alex Parker (@Alex_Parker) August 6, 2013
The Blogosphere is picking up on #FakeSharkWeekFacts, too. Here are some stories I've found, please add more in the comments section if you find them:
Tiger sharks don't think Frosted Flakes are good. They think they're grrreat! #FakeSharkWeekFacts— George T. Probst (@GeorgeProbst) August 13, 2014
The Insightful Panda: REALLY Shark Week? – From Megalodon to ‘Submarine’, Discovery Channel’s Fake Documentaries Continue
Ad Age: Debunking Discovery's Shark Week Is a Rising Cottage Industry
The Improper: Discovery's Shark Week Getting Torn To Shreds by... Scientists?
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
|Photo credit: Joe Daniels|
"The Republic of Maldives hosts one of few known year round aggregation sites for whale sharks," said James Hancock co-author and a director of MWSRP. "We have seen that they have become a major tourism draw to South Ari atoll, but we didn't expect these big numbers." The South Ari atoll Marine Protected Area (S.A.MPA) alone attracted 77,000 tourists in 2013. This equates to $9.4million USD in direct income to operators who offer the chance to glimpse this famous 'bucket list' animal.
This is the first value that has been attributed to what is a burgeoning industry in the Maldives. It is also the first time that a valuation for a wildlife viewing experience has been calculated exclusively from observational studies. "Instead of surveying tourists and extrapolating results we actually went out and counted how many boats and people were in the water looking for sharks" said Neal Collins, a joint researcher from IUCN and MWSRP and one of the authors of the study. "By doing so we were able to estimate not only how many people were interacting with the sharks, but also where and how they do it" added co-author Fernando Cagua.
"When we include the whale sharks from South Ari Atoll, we were able to adjust previous estimates of annual 'shark related' tourism expenditure in the Maldives from $12 million USD to nearly $20 million" said Fernando. "There are still many mysteries about these whale sharks -- we don't know why they come here or for how long they stay -- but bringing the money issue to the table is an important step towards ensuring their conservation."
Despite the South Ari Atoll Marine Protected Area (S.A.MPA) being the most popular whale shark viewing region in the Maldives, this area is as yet unregulated. This study, published today in the peer-reviewed journal PeerJ, highlights how the implementation of a management plan which safeguards this aggregation site would reduce the possible economic impact that would result from the sharks leaving the area due to stresses from the attention they receive.
The S.A.MPA was first designated in 2009. At 42 square kilometers it is the largest protected area in the Maldives. An accepted management plan was not reached at the original time of designation. Therefore, this study has proven timely, as consultations with local communities and tourism industry representatives have again begun, with a more determined effort to create a world class whale shark tourism destination.
"In a sense the whale sharks here are perfect for wildlife tourism. They are the largest shark in the world and the slow moving, shallow swimming behaviour they exhibit in S.A.MPA waters makes them accessible not just to scuba divers but also to snorkel excursions. This opens up an incredible wildlife experience to just about everyone, which of course brings with it a degree of risk in terms of the welfare of both the sharks and the tourists" said Richard Rees, director of MWSRP. "The encouraging thing is that everyone in the industry we talk to agrees these risks need to be managed and the local communities are receptive to participating in the management of the area." he added.
|Melanie Blas (center) with the Shark Defenders and her students from Simon Sanchez High School at an event to raise awareness for shark conservation.|
Projects in Blas’ classrooms include having a classroom garden, planting native trees with various state and local agencies while learning about erosion and protecting the coral reefs, teaching younger elementary school students about protecting the environment, and writing to their local senators and representatives about ongoing local issues.
The 17 teachers and 60 students awarded nationwide, demonstrate the creativity, innovation, leadership and passion for community engagement needed to face difficult environmental challenges. Teachers and students attending the ceremony will also be participating in a workshop led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to discuss climate and best practices in the field of climate education.
“Through their enthusiasm and commitment, these students and educators are inspiring current and future environmental stewards,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “We are pleased to honor their work that helps communities and protects the environment.”
Teachers who were received the PIAEE award will also receive $2,500 to further their professional training. In addition, each recipient's school will receive an additional $2,500 to support environmental education programs. This year’s Regional PIAEE winners are:
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Sunday, August 10, 2014
Kudos to Upwell for creating this handy Shark Week chart as part of the Official Upwell Toolkit for Saving Sharks During Shark Week 2014. We've decided to enhance this information with descriptions of each of this year's show from Discovery.
Each night at 11 PM, Shark Week’s late-night live talk show, Shark After Dark, will return. Host Josh Wolf will lead viewers through an hour-long celebration of all things shark-related, including celebrity guests and shark experts. The talk show will give viewers the opportunity to interact live on-air every night with tweets, questions to celebrity guests, and more.
Sunday, August 10
Air Jaws programming has pushed and expanded our understanding of great white sharks and has become one of the iconic SHARK WEEK programs. In Air Jaws: Fins of Fury Natural History producer Jeff Kurr and his team return using incredible new cameras and high tech underwater gadgetry to track down the missing “mega-shark” named Colossus.
Shark of Darkness: Submarine Returns explores the legend of “Submarine,” an enormous great white shark off the coast of South Africa. This 30-foot shark is said to be the largest great white shark of all time. Locals believe that this shark is responsible for countless fatal attacks, but its existence has never been proven. This documentary explores the evidence and asks the question: can Submarine exist?
Monday, August 11
In Jaws Strikes Back, marine biologist Greg Skomal and the REMUS* SharkCam team travel to the remote Pacific island of Guadalupe to film the hunting behavior of the largest great white sharks on earth.
Monster Hammerhead explores a legendary hammerhead shark that has been patrolling Florida’s shores for the past 60 years. Now, a team of scientists and anglers look to explore the mystery and find out if the legend could be real.
Tuesday, August 12
In Alien Sharks: Return to the Abyss, shark researcher Paul Clerkin heads to the Indian Ocean to investigate the ocean’s darkest depths in search of shark species that scientists never even knew existed and get a glimpse of the last known group of bioluminescent sharks in the world.
Lair of the Mega Shark follows famed shark experts Jeff Kerr and Andy Casagrande head to New Zealand on a life-or-death mission to investigate the sightings of a 20 foot Great White that resembles the legend of a giant great white shark Maoris call the “lord of the sharks." Jeff and Andy will risk everything to track down this Mega Shark believed to be lurking in the shadows of the New Zealand coast line.
Wednesday, August 13
Zombie Sharks explores tonic immobility, a catatonic zombie-like state that can be achieved in sharks. This shark phenomenon has been studied by scientists for years, but a recent spike in orca whale attacks on great white sharks suggests that orcas have now learned how to immobilize and prey on great whites. Professional diver Eli Martinez looks to prove this theory by being the first person to induce underwater tonic immobility in a massive great white shark.
Dr. Michael Domeier has spent years scouring the Pacific Ocean hoping to solve one of the greatest mysteries of shark science: the location of great white pupping grounds. In 2013, he set the process in motion by successfully tagging a pregnant female shark that he called Gil Rakers. Now he’s returning to the sea in Spawn of Jaws 2: The Birth to follow her journey and be the first to capture the birth of a baby great white shark.
Thursday, August 14
I Escaped Jaws 2 is a shark special featuring attack stories told from the perspective of the survivor. Using first person interviews and actual footage of the attacks, we take a look at why the attacks occurred and how the victims narrowly escaped with their lives.
Hawaii is thought of as an idyllic vacation destination, but recent spikes in shark attacks are turning these shores into a shark hot spot. Hawaiian native and surf legend Kala Alexander knows these waters better than anyone, and he hopes to uncover the reason behind this sudden shark invasion in Sharkageddon.
Friday, August 15
In April 2013, a fishing vessel off the coast of South Africa was attacked, killing all on board. A TV crew documented Marine Biologist Collin Drake as he worked to determine the predator responsible. Megalodon: The New Evidence presents Shark Week viewers with shocking new evidence and interview footage.
Saturday, August 16
Great White Matrix features legendary shark attack survivor Paul de Gelder and cameraman Andy Casagrande on an expedition into the deadly shark infested waters of Australia. Their mission is to investigate a series of bizarre shark attacks in an area swarming with great white sharks. Paul and Andy explore what’s bringing these great whites so close to shore and what’s responsible for the surge in attacks in this area.
|Setting purse seine nets around whale sharks was banned in 2012|
RMI Praised for Fining US SeinerThe Marshall Islands fined several vessels in 2012 and 2013. The shark sanctuary was declared in October 2011.
The recent fine meted out to a US flagged purse seiner was praised by a major United States conservation organization.
Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority officials confirmed last week that the US vessel Sea Bounty has paid $125,000 rather than go to court. Although the vessel denied that it was illegally catching sharks, the violations that led to the fine were reported by an on-board fisheries observer. "When the shark laws are enforced, it serves as a deterrent for future violations," said Angelo Villagomez, a shark expert with the Washington, DC-based Pew Foundation. "The Marshall Islands fines are particularly significant; these fines can be used to fund further enforcement efforts. It also shows the world that port enforcement works, and that shark sanctuaries work."
The vessel was reported both catching silky sharks and doing a tuna set on a whale shark, which is prohibited by RMI law. The huge size of whale sharks attracts tuna, making them a target for tuna boats.
"Whale sharks swimming on the surface act as a living fish aggregation device, or FAD," said Villagomez. "There will often be schools of tuna swimming below the big shark. Whale sharks are assessed as 'vulnerable' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Endangered Species."
Silky sharks have been singled out for protection because of heavy fishing. "Silky sharks are a major secondary catch in the western and central Pacific, but they have been fished so heavily the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) says they are overfished and that overfishing is still occurring," said Vilagomez.
Because of concern of overfishing, silky sharks were recently placed on a protected list by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, and fishing vessels are supposed to return them to the ocean alive if they are caught. "It is worrisome if this measure is not being followed by industry, but it is encouraging that enforcement is catching the violations," said Villagomez. "If industry doesn't implement the already agreed to protections, they can expect more stringent, global protections down the road."
Villagomez praised RMI for its vigilance in enforcing its shark sanctuary. "The Marshall Islands continues to be the model shark sanctuary in terms of its legal framework and enforcement," he said. "They are a global leader on the issue of shark conservation, and I hope that other countries continue to follow their lead."
Saturday, August 9, 2014
Shark Defenders Shark Defenders is dedicated to creating shark sanctuaries and supporting the proper management of shark and ray species worldwide.
Annie Anderson Other half to @DrGuttridge & mother to our pup Isla. Founder of #SharksNeedLove & overall shark nut. Please follow & support @SNLSharkArmy #SharkArmy
You are more likely to have starred in a major motion picture with @kevinbacon than be killed by a shark— Shark Defenders (@sharkdefenders) December 13, 2013
Leah Meth Shark Defenders' Director of Education.
Pondering environment issues.lots of science&awareness done.How to effect change?How can we ensure sustainability in our beloved Pacific??— Arthur Irwing Sokimi (@ArthurIrwing) March 16, 2014
Imogen Zethoven Environmentalist, Campaigner, Writer, Strategist, Communicator.
Big news: Illegal fishers who poached 153 sharks caught in U.S. waters: http://t.co/H9D2JW8ty9— pew environment (@pewenvironment) August 5, 2014
Debbie Salamone Organizer of Shark Attack Survivors for Shark Conservation, communications officer at The Pew Charitable Trusts
I'm loving Sharks International in Durban South Africa. Just been to a fin ID workshop by Demian Chapman and Debra Abercrombie. #sharks14— Imogen Zethoven (@ImogenZethoven) June 5, 2014
Daniel Fernando Marine biologist studying the biology and ecology of manta and mobula rays • PhD student at @linneuni • @MantaTrust associate director.
Cool! Thanks everyone. 100 followers, but I really am not very interesting :-) @danielfernan7 told me to tell you all to follow him instead.— Guy Stevens (@MantaGuy) June 9, 2014
Iris Ho 何燕青 Love sharks, not their fins; love elephants, not their ivory. Taiwan-born intl wildlife protection enthusiast @hsi.org. Previous life: human rights activist
Shark Fin Soup Is Going Extinct: http://t.co/Ruxn9i1Omm— Humane Society Int'l (@HSIGlobal) August 8, 2014
Ian Campbell Global Shark Programme Manager for WWF, Son of Wales, juggler of cats. Views ... own...etc, although they will mostly be either about sharks or random crap.
Massachusetts become the 9th US state to ban the trade in shark fins http://t.co/5AiUH9rxVD— Andy Cornish (@AndyCornishHK) July 25, 2014
R.J. Dunlap Program Advancing ocean conservation and scientific literacy by combining cutting edge research and outreach activities. Hammerschlag Lab
Why would anyone not want to protect this land? Resources for our future generations. pic.twitter.com/vt8VspDerw— Palau Sharks (@SharkSanctuary) August 9, 2014
Neil Hammerschlag Professor at University of Miami; Director of @RJ_Dunlap Program; Sharks Oceans Research; Education & Conservation. Views my own.
Happy Shark Week, everyone! http://t.co/QjBmD0H91K— R. J. Dunlap Program (@rj_dunlap) August 8, 2014
6 the Movie The team from @thecovemovie_ops expose the hidden world of extinction with never-before-seen images that will change the way we see the world #ops6
Thai Airways catches on and joins the growing tide against transporting shark fin. Well done Thai Airways, we... http://t.co/DElSTJYJzg— HK Shark Foundation (@HKSharkFdn) July 30, 2014
Sea Wild Earth Emmy winning wildlife cameraman / filmmaker. Loves the Sea, belongs in the Wild, a lover of our natural Earth. Work related inquiries @seawildearth
Another day grading Of Shark and Man... If you ever shoot your own film make sure everybody listens to you and shoots in one profile kids...— David Diley (@OfficeToOcean) July 10, 2014
Oceana Working hard to protect our oceans. Fighting against offshore oil & destructive fishing. Fighting for clean energy, sharks, & turtles.
Take a bite out of Shark Week! | Beneath The Waves Film Festival http://t.co/CqUnHK7got— Beneath the Waves (@Waves_FilmFest) August 9, 2014
Cristina Zenato 20 Years of Exploration, Education and Conservation. Dedicated to the preservation of our Oceans, Sharks and Fresh Water supply.
The Best Shark Dive in the World!: BVI - stellar! http://t.co/WGjjJk2QvB— BeqaAdventureDivers (@FijiSharks) May 25, 2014
Miko Lee Adult Entertainer, Entrepreneur, Exec Producer of @Mikoleellc, Shark Diver, Ocean conservationist.
The awe-inspiring projects that we get to be a part of take quite a bit of planning and creative thinking. Watch... http://t.co/YQDRQUhRgK— Jim Abernethy (@AbernethyScuba) June 11, 2014
Guy Harvey Welcome to the official Twitter page for GUY HARVEY - the world-renowned artist, scientist, diver, angler, conservationist and explorer.
Coming to Hawaii? Check out http://t.co/Qg70RitzkM come learn about shark biology and behavior and how to swim with them.— Ocean Ramsey (@OceanRamsey) June 21, 2014
This shiz is important. Sign it. thanks, @KayleighSSSOSL Pls sign&tell Obama 2ban sale trade&shark products/shark fin http://t.co/EerfoW3B
— Kristen Bell (@IMKristenBell) October 18, 2011
Animals! Help me protect sharks in Fiji - they need us! RT! #fijime #finsanity @HSIGlobal @SharkDefenders http://t.co/QZ5BVTcY
— kesha (@KeshaRose) June 19, 2012
Congrats to Guam for passing a ban on shark finning last week. Now, it's your turn California! @wildaid http://bit.ly/heQ8vi #fb
— Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) March 11, 2011
Friday, August 1, 2014
"A US fishing vessel has paid a $125,000 fine to the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA) to settle alleged fishing violations it was cited for June this year.
According to MIMRA legal advisor Tion Nabau, the Sea Bounty was repeatedly spotted in Majuro lagoon using a towboat to set its long net and catch fish including silky sharks.
Nabau said that upon interviewing witnesses and the observer on the incidents, more violations by the vessel were revealed including a June 5 incident whereby a whale shark was caught within RMI waters."
Setting nets on whale sharks was outlawed at the WCPFC meeting in Manila in December 2012. The sharks, which are assessed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species, are often stressed and die during the ordeal.
The Marshall Islands continues to be the model shark sanctuary in terms of its legal framework and enforcement. They are a global leader on the issue of shark conservation, and other countries should follow their lead.