Shark Week 2017 has officially arrived. At Blue Ocean Network, we recognize this week helps to break down stereotypes about sharks and educates the public about the important role these creatures play in our ecosystem.
It’s estimated that 100 million sharks are killed each year. Many shark populations have declined by up to 98% in the past 15 years and approximately one third of pelagic shark species are considered threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
While the majority of sharks killed each year are for use in shark fin soup, a not-so-insignificant number are killed for recreational purposes. In fact, in 2008, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration reported that a half million sharks were killed by anglers on private boats or chartered fishing vessels, and many were large sharks likely of breeding age.
Fighting Back Against Sport Fishing
There are many organizations working to combat the trade of shark fins, but there’s one organization you may not have heard about that is fighting to stop the killing of sharks for sport.
The Shark-Friendly Marina Initiative encourages shark conservation by prohibiting the landing of any shark at a participating marina. Its mission is to “reduce worldwide shark mortality, one marina at a time.” SFMI incorporates a two-pronged approach to protecting sharks and the ocean: Shark Friendly Facility and/or Marina, and a Shark Free Marina.
A Shark Friendly Facility and/or Marina discourages killing or landing sharks, and they do not serve shark products or promote activities that intentionally harm sharks. Shark Free Marinas do not allow sharks to be killed and landed at their facility, and they enforce a zero take policy. Although catch and release is not forbidden through this initiative, fishermen aren’t allowed to bring any sharks into the marina to take trophy shots, which SFMI hopes will make shark fishing less attractive.
From Guy Harvey, to Jim Toomey, Bill Maher and many others, SFMI has significant celebrity endorsement. More than 130 marinas worldwide are SFMI participants, with 96 in the U.S., 24 in Fiji, and six in the Bahamas.
You can become a member of the initiative by registering here.
Shark Fishing Tournaments Bring in Big Money
Shark fishing tournaments remain a popular event in coastal communities and the events can be quite profitable. Not only do winners bring home substantial sums, large corporations are funding the contests.
According to an investigation by The Guardian, 37 large and multinational corporations sponsor shark tournaments, including oca-Cola, Globalstar, Lexus, Caterpillar, Goslings Rum, Yamaha, Budweiser, Boat US (Berkshire Hathaway), West Marine, Astoria Bank, Home Depot, West Marine, BASF, Dow, Veolia, Ford, Phillips 66, Olin, Home Depot, Hertz, Maserati, Ferrari, Captain Morgan, Miller Lite, Coors Lite, Milwaukee Tool Corporation, Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation, Academy Sports, Nissan, Samuel Adams, Cummins, Garmin, Aon, Merrill Lynch (Bank of America), RBC Wealth Management, The Wahlrich Group and Unity International Group.
The tournaments have caught the ire of conservation groups like the U.K.-based Blue Planet Society and U.N Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh, who are calling for a ban on the tournaments.
“You see these pictures of sharks hanging upside down from gantries with their mouths open and people taking selfies. It’s akin to killing a lion, or a polar bear or an African elephant,” said Pugh in an interview with The Guardian.
Pugh was successful in getting Toyota to back out of a large contest after he contacted the company’s North American chief executive officer.
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