October & November 2011 Shark Bytes
Posted on Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Dear Shark Lovers
October and November are normally our least sharky months of the year. The Great Whites would have departed Seal Island for the year and bane of our existence, The South East winds normally arrive. This wind is nearly always gale force and makes any sort of sea activity very difficult!
As such Chris & I try to do other wildlife trips and these have kept us away from Cape Town for the last 2 months.
The images in this edition are from our recent trips to Namibia and Botswana. I would like to say a very big thank you to Wilderness Safaris for hosting us as well as Helena’s team at Savuti and Virgil’s team at Kings Pool for their great hospitality! We have also done a couple of pelagic trips and spent a few days the Great white sharks in Gansbaai. All our news is below.
Good News for Sharks
One of the best things I have done the last little while has not been at sea or in the bush but actually sitting behind my computer! As I am sure you are aware there have been a number of shark attacks recently, one in South Africa and a couple in Australia. These tragic events are almost always followed by negative press for sharks. I got me thinking that I should look for some more positive news from the last 18 months and decided to put it all on one piece of paper. Even though I get the news all the time it made quite an impact on me seeing it all in one place. I hope the below helps you to feel positive too.
A number of shark sanctuaries or shark protected areas have been created, legislation in numerous important cities has been passed banning the trade of shark fins and awareness in China on the need to conserve sharks is making progress.
The Creation of Shark Sanctuaries
The President of Palau led the way in creating the first shark sanctuary in 2009. Further to this at The United Nations he also strongly urged all nations to do the same and also raised awareness among leaders about the precarious state of our oceans.
In 2010 The Maldives created a shark sanctuary followed by Raja Ampat (Indonesia) , Honduras and The Bahamas.
The Marshall Islands have now just created the world’s largest shark sanctuary of nearly 770,000 square miles.
The legislation for the Marshall Islands is significant.
All commercial fishing for sharks is banned as well the sale, possession and trade of fins and all shark products.
No shark by catch is allowed and any shark accidently caught must be set free.
Heavy fines have been put in place and enforcement requires that all catches are landed within one of the country’s ports and bans transfers at sea.
In September Mexico announced plans to ban shark and ray fishing. Mexico is a huge fishing nation and we know that many Great White sharks are killed here every year. The details are sketchy but the declaration is a massive start as the ripple effect seems to spread.
Taiwan is also said to ban shark finning from 2012. (The whole shark carcass must be landed). Although not an all-out ban, it is a step forward for the country that has the fourth highest shark catch rate in the world. Taiwan would join Chile which banned shark finning in July 2011.
Banning the Sale and Trade of Shark Fins
The biggest victory is the recent banning of the trade, possession and sale of sharks fins in California. Interestingly 70% of the Asian community supported the bill with most of the opposition coming from traders who had hired lobbyists.
This legislation is vitally important because California is the largest collection point for fins from Central and South America that are then shipped to the Pacific rim. If fins can’t get out, they can’t be bought.
With many other cities now following suit this could be a major factor in reducing commercial shark fishing.
California now joins other US states of Hawaii and Oregon.
Toronto, which is the largest market for shark products in Canada, and Ontario have also passed the same bill. The Toronto bill which was passed last week makes a very strong call for other Canadian cities to join them.
All these bills had huge public support so I strongly urge you to sign petitions and write letters when requested. You can make a difference!
Fuji have indicated that they are also looking at introducing the ban of trade and possession of shark fins and products although no possible date as yet been given.
In Singapore a leading supermarket chain has supported WWF’s Sustainable Seafood Group and is no longer selling shark fin and shark products from its 42 outlets. Singapore is one the biggest consumers of seafood in the Asia-Pacific region so a large supermarket chain taking a step like this is very positive. And again it will lead the way for others to follow.