Monday, March 16, 2015

Bwanaan te Beeba: Protect Our Sharks!



The Kiribati Independent newspaper recently took a strong stand on the issue of creating a shark sanctuary in all of Kiribati's waters. The original was printed March 6, 2015 in the native language of Kiribati. Here is the English translation.
The Federated States of Micronesia has recently declared its ocean a shark sanctuary. This move has confirmed FSM’s support for the important role sharks play in keeping our marine ecosystems healthy today and for the future. The elders of Abemama have also shown their support towards the Kiribati oceans being a shark sanctuary and they urged the government this is right and it should be done.

Other islands that have confirmed their support for this before Abemama are Makin, Butaritari, Marakei, Abaiang, Eutan Tarawa, Tarawa Teinanino, Betio, Kiritimati, Maiana and Arorae. The shark sanctuary was introduced as a motion in the previous Parliament sittings which was opposed by the government. They argued that PIPA has become a tool for shark conservation, in addition to our people making a living from the shark fin trade.

The shark sanctuary project is more focused on protecting sharks in our entire EEZ with more emphasis on those fishing vessels that strive to boost the shark fin trade by harvesting sharks in our waters. These greedy fishermen only take the shark fins and discard the shark bodies. We must put a stop to this. The government’s reluctance to accepting the bill will only prove them to be silly and wrong since they have continuously opposed it from the first time this idea was brought up. They are afraid of being led by one or two people to a better future and also risk giving the public a reason to laugh at them. But then, what harm will come out of the government swallowing their pride and accepting this move?

With the increasing number of supporting islands, what is holding our leaders back from supporting this bill if this is to benefit our people? Is it because the campaign on the shark sanctuary founded and led by someone they consider their enemy? The government should open its mind like those elders who have opened their minds and accepted the shark sanctuary proposal during the island consultations. It is very hard to listen to someone you hate, even though that person’s ideas are very good for the nation, but your hatred will not allow you to accept those good ideas. Here is when we show we are not working on something useful but we are wrapped up in our personal differences.

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