I’m still trying to recover from the loss of Rob Stewart and I’m reminded of all the energy and passion he poured into his protection of sharks. So in honor of Rob we’re going to do a shark-a-thon of all the recent stories on sharks, especially those that show that Rob’ efforts are paying off. Here’s to you Rob Stewart.
Shark Finning will not go Unpunished
Starting with good news out of Costa Rica where a Costa Rican judge handed down a prison sentence (the country’s first) for illegal trafficking in shark fins. A six month sentence was given to a Taiwanese woman for a haul of 652 shark fins in 2011. Chang, 36, is the owner of the Asian fishing boat where customs officials discovered the shark fins in cold storage. Chang was attempting to circumvent a 2005 Costa Rican law prohibiting shark finning. (photo – Burt Jones)
Costa Rica is world famous for its eco-friendly identity, however the country had a black eye for its lack of effort to control shark finning, even earning a Shark Enemy Award for then-President Abel Pacheco in 2005. It has been estimated that as recently as 2012 up to 400,000 sharks were caught for their fins the previous year.
“To reach a point where there’s an actual criminal sanction reflects the growing concern in Costa Rica,” said Marco Quesada, country director for Conservation International. Although the case will go to appeal Quesada says “If we achieve a progressive ruling, it can serve as precedent for shark finning cases in other countries.”
Go to Fusion.net for the entire article: Gruesome shark finning discovery leads to major legal victory for sharks
5 Things You Didn’t Know Sharks Do For You
This is a great article by Molly Bergen in HumanNature that you need to read. We are always surprised by how terrified people are of sharks when as Molly points out “statistically you are more likely to be killed by a toaster.” People seem to be fascinated and petrified by sharks in equal measure. In fact there are very good reasons why sharks should be more terrified of us, as the statistics on their dramatically declining numbers indicate. And if sharks were to disappear it would be very bad for us. (photo- Rudolph Holler)
Sharks, by being “apex” predators keep the food chain in balance and in the process keep the ocean eco-system healthy.
Sharks could hold cures for diseases, They don’t often seem to get sick and may suggest treatments for viruses and cystic fibrosis.
Sharks help to keep the carbon cycle in motion, by scavenging dead fish off the sea floor and thus help to move carbon thru the ocean.
Sharks inspire good design. Having been around for400 million years they have evolved into models of speed and efficiency in water.
Sharks are a plus for local economies. As the public’s fascination with sharks grows it has boosted the economy of coastal communities.
Breaking News: Speaking of the Economic Benefits of Sharks read about Shark Tourism in the Bahamas
Does Sustainable Fishing Play a Roll in Shark Protection?
Cell.com reports some pretty disturbing statistics on the world’s populations of sharks and rays with a quarter of these species reaching an elevated level of extinction risk. However in addition to bans on the sale and shipping of shark products they suggest that ensuring the sustainable fishing of sharks may be an approach to saving shark populations. Colin Simpfendorfer, the author, of the article: Bright Spots of Sustainable Shark Fishing points out that most shark losses are due to incidental by-catch and that sharks play an important role in food security in the developing world. Obviously to protect shark populations for the future a broad spectrum of options will need to be acted upon. (photo – Brian Skerry, Nat. Geo.)
A New Species of Hammerhead Shark Raises Questions
Scientists report that they think that a new species of hammerhead shark has been unmasked in Belize. Bonnethead sharks are well known, however recent DNA samplings suggest that their may be two distinct species of Bonnethead, not one as was originally thought. Demian Chapman lead researcher, says “Now we have to define the range of each of these species individually and assess them independently against where the potential threats are.” (photo – Florida International Univ.)
Part of what determines the separateness of species is do they interbreed? And it appears that the Bonnetheads from Belize stopped interbreeding with those from Mexico, the US and the Bahamas several million years ago. Must be something in the water. ( I said that not the researchers)
Chapman is leading a project to survey sharks called Global FinPrint an initiative of the Paul G. Allen Foundation that has brought an international research team together to supply critical information about the state of shark and ray populations globally.
Here’s a post from our ally Mission Blue that we wanted to share with you. Sharks4Kids is a program in the Bahamas to introduce local children to sharks and stingrays and to meet them first-hand in their underwater home. The Bahamas are considered a sanctuary for sharks and a perfect place for the local children to learn the environmental and economic benefits derived from protecting sharks and stingrays. For many of the kids it’s their first time on a boat, even though they live on an island, consequently the experience is eye-opening in many ways. (photo – Sharks4Kids)
As part of our continuing attempt to educate the public about sharks we bring you this post: Culling Sharks is Not the Answer. When there were eight fatal shark attacks on La Reunion in five years there was a call to cull sharks, however experts warn that culling is not the answer. Find out why!
Catch and Release Can be Lethal
New research indicates that catch and release can be lethal for many species of sharks. This is bad news for conservation minded fishermen that thought they were following sustainable practices. An article in Hakai Magazine says that marine biologists are discovering that many types of sharks are so traumatized by being caught that even if released, they will die of the stress.
Austin Gallagher, a shark biologist with the University of Miami, has observed this happening. In 2014, his team attached a camera to a great hammerhead that had been hooked and then released it. Within,10 minutes, they saw the shark sink to the bottom, and die. That instance underscored the need to better understand shark resiliency and the stress thresh-hold for these magnificent fish. Austin Gallagher is a member of our Blue Ocean Community and you can learn about his important research at Beneath the Waves.
While discussing ways to protect sharks, see our Blue Ocean post describing a new tool that Dive Tourism Businesses can use to protect sharks and rays. It’s the Guide to Best Practices for Shark and Ray Tourism and it will give you tons of information, including a Best Practice Toolkit and access to posters, etc. all brought to you via Project Aware.
Air China Bans Shark Fin Cargo
As we recently reported on this website: “at last there is a mainland China air carrier that has joined in banning the transport of shark fin products. 36 other international airlines have already banned this controversial cargo and although this ban only applies to Air China Cargo it is a start.” Rob Stuart would have been proud of this achievement. “This echoes the implementation of a ban by Hong Kong Express last year followed by Cathay Pacific and Dragonair. And joins with Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Emirates and American Airline all major carriers that are observing a shark fin ban.” See the entire Blue Ocean article Air China Bans Shark fin Cargo.
See our follow-up post on the effectiveness of the shark fin carrier ban. Are their loopholes and can it be made to work? Follow the three month investigation by Sea Shepherd in: Sea Shepherd Investigates Illegal Shark Fins Shipments
Tell Fed-EX No to Shark Finning
The decision by Air China brings us to a petition we posted on the Blue Ocean website several months ago to: Tell Fed-EX No to Shark Finning.
As recently as December 19, 2016, Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue had sent a letter to Fred Smith the CEO of Federal Express attempting to get Federal Express to stop carrying Shark Fin products. Apparently that letter and numerous previous appeals have fallen on death ears even after UPS and DHL stated that they would abide with a ban. And after the seriousness of the issue of shark finning was clearly described to Federal Express management. We need to up the pressure so pick your poison and choose which or all of the petition links supplied here to send your message to Fred Smith and the management of Federal Express. (photo – Bob Wood)
Here’s a thought, in addition to the petitions, if we all take a huge marker and write “Stop Shipping Shark Fins” on every Fed Ex envelope or package we ship maybe the message will get through to Fed Ex employees that something stinks and maybe they have inside means to communicate their displeasure to management.
Care2 Petitions: Stop Fed Ex From Shipping Shark Fins
Defender of Wilderness: Tell Fed Ex to Stop Shipping Shark Fins
the Dodo: Tell FedEx to stop shipping Shark Fins
or Change.org: FedEx: Ban the Shipment of Shark Fins
or read Wild Aids article: Protesters Call on FedEx to Ban Shark Fin Shipments
We have a bit of everything in our Shark-a-Thon Post
So in addition to our petitions we also have a survey for you that wants to evaluate the public’s attitudes towards sharks, it looks quite legit, but of course this could be a ploy by the Trump Administration to test the public’s attitude before introducing shark fin soup on the menu for White House State Dinners.
So here’s: Evaluating the attitudes of the public towards sharks
We could not close our Shark-A-Thon Missive without offering our Blue Ocean post on Rob Stewart: How do we revolutinize our world in which we included his 2014 Blue Ocean Summit interview with Laurie Wilson. It is packed with humor, inspiration, and calls to actions as only Rob could do it. Rob will be sorely missed by all his friends and all that were touched by his inspiration.
Breaking News: Planet Experts posted this tribute to Rob Stewart: Standing Up for Sharks: Continuing the Incredible Legacy of Shark Expert Rob Stewart
Plus this in from Jonah Bryson a very close friend of Rob’s, a filmmaker and young mover and shaker writes very movingly about his friend, mentor and inspiration in: Remembering Rob Stewart: A tribute to my hero, friend and mentor
Remember to sign our petition (not another damm petition!) in honor of Rob Stewart to: Make February 3, National Shark Day
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