Wednesday, June 24, 2015

5 Questions With Shark Stanley: Speaker Fernando Scaliem

Speaker Fernando Scaliem and Shark Stanley
Speaker Fernando Scaliem has been a member of the Pohnpei Legislature for more than 20 years.  Prior to his service in the Legislature he worked in continuing education at the Community College of Micronesia for over a decade.  He has championed shark protections on his native island of Pohnpei, at the national level of the Federated States of Micronesia, and internationally as his role as treasurer of the Association of Pacific Islands Legislatures.

Speaker Scaliem is our latest Shark Stanley Ambassador.  We ask all of our ambassadors the same set of five questions.  Here's what the shark man of Micronesia had to say:

Why are sharks important to you?
Sharks are cleaners and protectors of the ocean. Not only are they important to the health of the ocean, but they have great cultural significance for my people. My clan—tipakua—worshiped this animal. We’re also called “Ribako.” Our clan comes originally from the Gilbert Islands in Kiribati.

How are we going to save the world’s sharks?
We are going to save the world’s sharks by passing legislation to protect sharks and properly enforcing that legislation. It is also incredibly important for us to educate the public on the importance of sharks to our oceans.

How are you working to protect sharks?
I sponsored the shark protection legislation in Pohnpei in 2013. The legislation prohibits shark fishing in Pohnpei’s waters. I worked to convince the other senators in Pohnpei to pass the shark legislation. In fact, Pohnpei was the first state in the Federated States of Micronesia to introduce shark protection legislation. We worked in communities and with students to educate the public and build support for the shark protection law.

I also met with Eugene Joseph from the Conservation Society of Pohnpei and asked him to help. He gave me lots of shark conservation t-shirts, which I gave to some of the women in my village. They performed traditional dances wearing these shirts, and that’s when the community support really started to take off. CSP also did a lot of works with young people and held rallies to support our shark law, and the passage of the Federated States of Micronesia national law.

Lots of people look up to you, who are your conservation heroes?
Willy Kostka from Micronesia Conservation Trust and Eugene Joseph from the Conservation Society of Pohnpei.

What advice would you give to young conservationists?
It is our duty to save the world, starting little by little. Support conservation for sharks and all marine animals. We only have one planet and we should all do our part to save it.
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