Sunday, December 13, 2009

Looking forward to a big year for sharks in 2010!!

Most of you have heard the news by now that this Thursday, December 10th, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved the draft rule prohibiting the harvest of lemon sharks in Florida waters. Final vote and adoption of this rule is scheduled for the FWC's February meeting in Apalachicola. Yes there's a final vote yet, but the unanimous approval of the rule on Thursday was critical and demonstrates that the Florida FWC Commission truly is leading the way in shark and marine ecosystem conservation!

And luckily the commercial shark fishery in Federal and State waters is currently closed and not scheduled to re-open until July. So this winter's lemon shark aggregations will not be targeted by commercial fishermen.

Thanks to everyone who has supported this effort over the past six months, but first and foremost to Dr. Gruber and Walt Stearns for getting this ball rolling!! The research data provided by Dr Gruber and his dedicated team demonstrated without a doubt the extreme vulnerability of the lemon sharks and provided the justification needed to call for their protection. And Walt Stearns, who first discovered the Palm Beach lemon shark aggregations back in 2001, has worked hand in hand with Dr Gruber, put out the first call for support in the campaign to protect the lemon sharks and has followed through every step of the way. In addition, a number of people attended and spoke at the FWC Commission meetings and Workshops, many letters were written to the Commissioners and over five thousand people signed the lemon shark petition!

Probably the most heartening aspect of this campaign is that scientists, conservationists, recreational fishermen, divers, eco-tour operators and former commercial fishermen have come together to work as a team. No one jumped up and down and made demands. We made reasonable requests and backed them up with scientific and economic data. And the Policy Makers listened.

There are other shark species that are still in need of protection, and for 2010 efforts will focus on Hammerheads, Bull Sharks and Tiger Sharks, all of which have experienced tremendous population declines. Please get involved!

Here's what you can do to make a difference:

1. Attend the FWC workshops and Commission meetings:

Public input is welcome and it does make a difference. Please attend these meetings, speak and fill out the questionnaires provided. At the October Lemon Shark Workshop in Dania Beach, we had a great turnout, but about half of the pro-shark attendees forgot to fill out the questionnaires!! And all of the commercial fishermen there filled them out. Not complaining, we're thrilled and grateful that so many people made the effort to show up! Just something to remember for next time! The reason for holding the Public Workshops is for the FWC to gauge public opinion. So it's important not just to show up, but to make your voice heard. And you don't have to be a scientist or a shark expert to comment!

The next meeting on the schedule is the FWC Commission meeting on February 17-18th in Apalachicola, Florida. Most likely the vote on the Lemon Shark rule will take place on the second day, the 18th. We'll post the agenda and more details as they become available. Apalachicola is on the Florida Panhandle between Tallahassee and Panama City. Please contact us if you'll be able to make it.

2. Provide scientific research:

If you are a shark scientist, and have any data that is relevant to protection of these shark species -- published studies, ongoing or planned studies, ideas for studies, etc., please contact us. Scientific data is absolutely critical -- documentation of population declines, value of sharks to the ecosystem, value of sharks to the economy, documentation on life history characteristics, important nursery habitat areas, etc. We can get you in touch with other scientists as well as foundations that are interested in funding this type of research.

3. Stay informed:

Register to receive updates to this blog and / or become a fan on Facebook for updates (click the Follow / Facebook buttons on the right side of the page). We will provide the information on dates, places and issues. And we will research the issues and give you an overview so that you can be informed when you get to the meeting.

4. Send written comments:

If you live out of state or can't make it to the meetings, then write a short letter to the Commissioners. Again we'll provide overviews of the issues so that you can comment intelligently.

5. Get involved with other shark protection efforts:

For those of you from other coastal states in the US and other countries, please get involved with efforts to protect sharks in your waters. Go to the website for the state or country fisheries management authority. Get on the mailing list for updates, notification of meetings and proposed rule changes. Find out what other groups are already involved and contact them to find out how you can best contribute!

More and more, the message is spreading that sharks are vitally important to the health of our planet and that they are in trouble. There's momentum on the policy side -- more countries are passing no shark finning legislation and stricter limits on shark harvesting. And there's also momentum on the movement to reduce demand for shark products. The Shark Savers / Wild Aid "Say No to Shark Fin Soup" campaign raised funds for over 1000 billboards in less than three weeks and is going strong. Meanwhile several groups have been successful in persuading nutritional supplements makers to drop their shark cartilage products and many cosmetics makers have switched from shark based ingredients to plant based alternatives. And the list of success stories continues to grow!

There's hope for sharks so let's all pull together and make a difference in 2010!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

One Big Step Closer to Protection for Florida's Lemon Sharks!

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have proposed a draft rule that will prohibit all harvest of lemon sharks in Florida State waters.

Dr. Gruber and his team from the Bimini Shark Lab and Walt Stearns, publisher of the Underwater Journal initiated this campaign to add lemon sharks to fully protected status in Florida waters. And several conservation groups (Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Shark Foundation, Shark Safe Network, Oceanic Defense, Shark Savers) and shark eco-tourism operators (Jim Abernethy, Emerald Charters, Jupiter Dive Center, Captain Ken Harris) have joined them in this effort.

You can help too!! Here's what you can do :

1. Attend the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission meeting December 10th in Clewiston, Florida (Details). It's very important that people show up at the meeting to voice their support for the protection of lemon sharks. We can help you with preparing your comments. Please contact us if you can attend.

2. If you can't make the meeting, you can still submit written comments to:

Mail: Kathleen Hampton
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
620 South Meridian Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600

See the sample letter below. You may modify this letter to include your personal observations or interest in having these animals protected. Please keep it positive and to the point!

3. Sign the Petition to Protect Lemon Sharks.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!! We will post developments to this blog, so stay tuned!

Sample Letter text:

Dear Commissioners:

I understand that on December 10th the Commission will consider approval of a rule prohibiting the harvest of lemon sharks in Florida's state waters. I am strongly in favor of this proposal and urge you to please vote to protect the lemon sharks from all commercial and recreational harvest.

Lemon Sharks and the other Large Coastal Shark species are vital to Florida's precious ocean ecosystem, and allowing their numbers to be depleted will result in degradation of our reefs and fewer fish for all of us to enjoy. The Lemon Shark aggregations off the coast of Florida have also become a very valuable tourist attraction and are the subject of scientific research.

I am also in favor of other shark protections that have been proposed, including:

* prohibtion of the harvest of sandbar, silky and Caribbean sharpnose sharks from state waters;
* prohibition of the removal of shark heads and tails at sea;
* allowing only hook and line gear to harvest sharks

Thank you for making Florida a leader in the conservation sharks and our marine ecosytems!

City, State

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Senate Committee Passes Bill to End Shark Finning in the US

The US takes a step in the right direction. Let's hope other countries follow suit.

The Shark Conservation Act of 2009, which aims to close loopholes in current shark finning legislation, was passed by the House of Representatives in March:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shark Savers and WildAid billboard campaign

Here is a great way to take action for sharks. Shark Savers and WildAid have teamed up to create a new campaign in China aimed at stopping the ugly and destructive practice of shark finning. Through this program anyone is able to purchase a "say 'no' to shark fin soup" bus stop billboard featuring NBA star Yao Ming, an influential and respected Chinese native. For $100 this billboard will stay in place for a year. See more details at this link:

If you're looking for holiday gift ideas, this is a good and noble one.

Act now and one of generous Shark Savers' sponsors will double your contribution! This is a special opportunity to support a crucial cause -- saving sharks!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Shark Saturdays -- the Good Kind!

Tom Sergent has successfully kept shark products out of the restaurants in Rockford, Illinois, spends countless hours educating children about sharks as a volunteer for Iemanya Oceanica and is always available to help and coach others who want to get involved with shark conservation.

Tom's latest effort to educate his community will take place on Saturday, November 14th at the Discovery Center Children's Museum. If you live in or around Rockford, Illinois, please come by to show your support!

Shark Saturdays - Discovery Center Children's Museum, Rockford, IL

Second Saturday Science Series: Learn about sharks! Meet ocean and shark conservationist and professional diver Thomas Sergent of Shark Diver Magazine. Find out more about these fascinating creatures as well as the oceans they live in, and discover what you can do to help save them. Breathe through scuba gear, make a shark model, touch real shark teeth, see what underwater pressure does to your lungs, and more! No registration required. Included with Museum admission: $6 adults, $5 children ages 2-17.

And Happy Birthday to Tom - Amphibious Warrior and Shark Hero!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Great Turnout at the Lemon Shark Workshops!!

The lemon sharks were well represented on Monday and Tuesday at the Workshops held in Ft Myers and Dania Beach, Florida!

There was an excellent turnout of shark scientists, dive operators, conservation groups and concerned citizens who came together to present a coordinated and factual appeal to the FWC for protection of lemon sharks and the other large coastal shark species. Several people even drove three hours to attend to the Workshop in Fort Myers -- thank you!!

The case presented for the sharks was very compelling. Both the scientific evidence and the economic case for the value of a live shark vs a dead shark was overwhelming.

The group of commercial shark fishermen at the Dania Beach meeting felt outnumbered and were understandably unhappy. They expressed concerns that the closures and restrictions on one species after another was gradually putting them out of business. Other attendees, however, urged them to consider ecotourism as an alternative. Jim Abernethy offered his assistance in making this change, and another gentlemen spoke about his personal experience of changing from commercial fishing to ecotourism. For him it has been both profitable and rewarding. The fishermen weren't particularly open to the idea, but at least the seed has been planted. Hopefully some of them will consider it.

In summary, we're confident and very optimistic, but it's not time to relax yet. The two FWC analysts who conducted the Workshops will now work on their recommendation to the Commissioners. These recommendations should be made public sometime in November.

At the December 10th Commission meeting in Clewiston, Florida the FWC Commissioners will vote on whether or not to add Lemon Sharks to the Prohibited Species list. It will be important to have another good turnout at this meeting.

Other coastal species are on the schedule for 2010 and we've been told that shark issues - including more protections for Hammerheads, Tiger and Bull Sharks, and mandated use of circle hooks - are a top priority.

Thanks to all who made the effort to show up at the Lemon Shark Workshops and to all of you who signed the Lemon Shark petition. Great job, thank you!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Florida Lemon Shark Update!

Lemon Shark Public Workshops start today. If you can attend one of these meetings, it would make a big difference in the effort to protect these sharks!

Monday October 19th in Fort Myers, FL - 6pm till 8pm
Joseph P. D'Alessandro Office Complex -- 2295 Victoria Ave.

Tuesday October 20th in Dania Beach, FL - 6pm till 8pm
IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum - 300 Gulfstream Way

And if you haven't signed yet, please sign the Petition: Urgent Help Needed to Protect Lemon Sharks!!

Over 4000 people have signed in just one week! This petition along with selected comments will be presented at the Dania Beach Beach Workshop on Tuesday. So let's make a big push to get many more signatures in the next two days!

Thanks to everyone who signed, shared and blogged so far. Your support is very much appreciated!! Please check back later in the week for a full report on the Workshops.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Why All Shark Tournaments Should be Catch and Release

Destin, Florida's Annual Fishing Rodeo draws crowds and brings business to local retailers and charter boats. Their addition of the "Shark Saturdays" category, however, in which a $250 prize is awarded for the biggest shark brought in every Saturday in October, gives this family event a big black eye.

The photo at the left shows a juvenile tiger shark - only 78 pounds - brought to the dock on October 10th. Because of their biology (they basically pee through their skin), shark meat is not edible unless the animal is immediately gutted on put on ice.

The winning shark was a 140 pound bull shark that probably hadn't even reached reproductive age yet. On the first Shark Saturday, October 3rd, a Hammerhead (classified by the IUCN as 'Endangered') was brought to the docks and then discarded.

Yet this very same tournament has a Billfish Division, for which anglers bring a photo to the weigh station --- yes, all catch and release! Why not make all fishing tournaments catch and release for sharks as well. Please see these Seven Vital Reasons Why Shark Tournaments are Changing to 'Catch and Release':

Shark Safe Network and Oceanic Defense are working together on this important issue. Fishing tournaments can be family friendly community events that benefit everyone and don't harm the environment. Killing the most ecologically important animals in the sea is not family friendly and it's not necessary.

Thank you to Omar Mulla and friends for his photo and report.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Florida's Lemon Sharks Need Your Help

This is an urgent posting asking your help to protect Florida's lemon sharks. Since lemon sharks are not protected, and other species of coastal sharks and fish are, fishermen are already targeting these fascinating and eco-vital creatures for slaughter this winter.

Divers, scientists and conservationists have united to form a petition to be delivered at the upcoming public workshops hosted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission on October 19th and 20th. We need your support to reach our goal of 10,000 signatures. Please pass along the petition to everyone you know. The sharks need your help!
If you live in Florida please join us:
October 19th - Fort Myers, FL - 6:00pm - 8:00pm - Joseph P. D'Alessandro Office Complex, 2295 Victoria Ave.
October 20th - Dania Beach, FL - 6:00pm - 8:00pm - IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum, 300 Gulf Stream Way.
You can also list the petition site as your Twitter or Facebook status. Any form of reaching the masses is appreciated.
Let's do our best to put an end to this senseless slaughter!
Thank you for your help!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Peter Fang, House of Nanking, is a hero to sharks and the oceans!

Thank you Peter Fang for being a hero to sharks and the oceans!!

The House of Nanking is one of the most famous and popular restaurants in San Francisco’s Chinatown.  Chef Owner Peter Fang also recently opened a new hotspot in the SOMA district -- Fang Restaurant (660 Howard Street).


Peter Fang cares about the health of his customers and wants to do his part to protect sharks and our oceans from the devastating overfishing that is being driven by the demand for shark fin soup.  Both of Peter’s restaurants are now proudly displaying Shark Safe Network’s brand new stickers in their front windows: 

For the health of our customers and the planet ... no shark products are served at this establishment.

As an award winning chef with one of the most acclaimed restaurants in Chinatown and now in SOMA as well, Peter Fang is setting a brilliant example.  Proving that Chinese restaurants do not have to serve shark fin soup to be successful!

Quote from World Travel Guide’s City Guide to San Francisco – House of Nanking was one of only 25 restaurants chosen for this listing.

“San Francisco's Chinatown is bursting with eateries, but this is king among them. Owner and chef Peter Fang has perfected the Chinese art of serving an array of delicious dishes in the shortest possible time.”

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Please help Shark Savers to get 10,000 signatures for this Thank You card to Palau!!

From Julie Andersen:

Shark friends,
Last April, Palau announced they were considering legislation to legalize shark fishing for foreign vessels in their water. A country who relies upon tourism for over 60% of their GDP – the majority of that being dive tourism.

Over the last several months, Shark Savers, with the support of several international and local Palau organizations, has been actively conducting a campaign to protest this legislation, engaging citizens of the world to appeal to the government of Palau through individual letters and through a petition. And in that time, countless letters have been written while the petition gained over 4,500 signatures; many from tourists who had or were planning on visiting Palau.

This month, I am sure everyone is aware by now that Palau has completely changed their stance -– in part thanks to the outpouring of support from folks who participated in this campaign and made their voices heard. It is true... Our voices count!

A real 180 degree strategy shift. Instead of opening their waters, Palau has unequivocally closed them – creating the world’s first national shark sanctuary. 240,000 square miles protecting 130 species of sharks. And while Palau, like so many other countries, does not have the funds to enforce the sanctuary to the level needed (a recent flyover revealed 70 long lining boats in these waters) and our work is clearly not done, it is an important step. One that deserves some recognition!

Please sign the thank you card to President Toribiong and Palau. We will be presenting this to him publicly to celebrate this win amongst all of us and show everyone that together, we can protect sharks.  We are hoping this attention ignites much more positive change.
And besides, it is so nice to sign something positive related to shark conservation, isn't it? We would like to get at least 10,000 signatures from all over the world, so please have everyone you know sign it and promote it however you can (blogs, thru your organization & mailing list, etc.) This should be our battle cry!

Julie Andersen
Founder & Director, Shark Savers -
Shark Angel -
A Shark Angel's Blog:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Shark Rescue is here! Hong Kong based organization working to protect sharks and the oceans.

Sign up for the Shark Rescue Examiner

Shark Rescue is Here! 
Welcome to the Shark Rescue Examiner, where you'll find our latest updates, get shark-conservation news, learn about the companies we've challenged and are winning over, and more. We've got big plans in store and you're invited to join us. Welcome!

Shark News
Florida proposes more protection for sharks 
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) on Thursday proposed rules to enhance its long-standing policy to protect stressed shark populations in Florida waters.
Mutilated sharks turning up in SA waters
Foreign fishermen are continuing to hack the fins off sharks in South African waters and toss the animals back into the sea while they are alive.

No Thanks! 
How we're asking businesses to stop selling shark. Get involved!
+ We confront the Sheraton and Starwood Hotels. After our launch, one of our fans let us know that the Sheraton Futian in Shenzhen was actively promoting a shark-fin offer. Want to get involved? Send their Executive Assistant Manager and email and tell them to remove all shark from their menu!

 + We confront the City of Destin, Florida. Destin is a city that has regular 'shark rodeos', where fisherman get up to $250 in prize money for the largest shark that they kill. Makos, tigersharks and more are the casual victims of these tournaments.

 + We tell Best Bully Sticks to stop selling shark spines. The company sells chew toys for dogs, and one of their products is a thresher shark spine, which their distributor gets from India. Thresher sharks the world over are threatened, and we're trying to get Best Bully Sticks to stop selling threatened species and join Shark Rescue as a winning organization. Want to get involved? Send them an email and tell them to remove all shark from their menu!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Announcing the NEW Shark Safe Network website!

We want to encourage and enable more people to get involved with shark conservation and make a difference.

On the Shark Safe Network website you can find out:
  • What shark conservation groups around the world are doing to save sharks and how you can support their efforts.
  • How to start your own shark conservation campaign in your community.  We’ll help you to do it!
  • Urgent Alerts on important shark conservation issues – Please check today’s Urgent Alert about protecting Florida sharks.
For each of seven main campaign areas, the Shark Safe Network website provides:
  • Overview of the issues
  • Campaign goals
  • Action plan
  • Materials to download – Brochures, Sample letters and more
  • Links to more information and resources
  • Information on current campaigns you can join
It’s been a huge project to compile all this information and create all these materials, but there’s much more to do!  Please send us your ideas on how we can improve this resource for you and for the sharks!!

Thanks for your support and looking forward to working with you!!

Shark Safe Network Team

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Looking Good for Lemon Sharks and other Florida Coastal Sharks!

Overall the FWC meeting on Sept 10th went extremely well and Dr Gruber is happy! The Commissioners spoke very favorably about amending the rules to add lemons, tigers and hammerheads (great, scalloped and smooth) and possibly bulls to the prohibited list, and also to require circle hooks for shark fishing.
We were hoping that they would make the decision right then and there, but after some discussion the Commissioners decided that they should first get some more input from staff.  For one, they would like to have more data to be able to make the case for Federal protections, since some of the lemon shark aggregations span State and Federal waters.  They also cited concern about protecting one species and then just shifting the fishing pressure to another species.  So while the focus was clearly on the lemon sharks to protect their winter aggregations, the Commission is open to adding protections for other shark species that are vulnerable.

The final public hearing will take place in December. In the meantime, we would still encourage you to send comments to the Commissioners (     
If you send a comment, please thank the Commissioners for their leadership in protecting sharks and let them know that you support adding more vulnerable shark species to the Prohibited Species list, especially Lemon Sharks, Hammerheads, Tigers and Bulls.  Observations from any of you who have been diving and fishing in Florida for a long time with regard to the declines in shark populations in Florida and specifically which species have declined the most would be helpful.  And of course scientific data documenting these declines is important as well. 

And please don’t forget about the proposed circle hook requirement.  This is huge!  In Florida alone over a million sharks are caught and released.  The use of circle hooks vs J hooks has been demonstrated to increase the post-release survival dramatically.  So this rule alone could potentially save the lives of hundreds of thousands of sharks in Florida every year.

Friday, September 4, 2009

UPDATE to Florida's Lemon Sharks Need our Help!

Written comments can be submitted to:

By postal mail:

Kathleen Hampton
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
620 South Meridian Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600

Comments submitted will be forwarded to the Commissioners for their review and for the record.

Please note: Florida has a very broad public records law. Most written communications to or from state officials regarding state business are considered public records and are available to the public and the media upon request. Therefore, your e-mail communications may be subject to public disclosure.

Public attendance is still vital though!! Please try to make it to the meeting in person. The Sept. 10th FWC meeting takes place at the Mission Inn Resort & Club. This is a really nice place to spend a few days and only minutes from Orlando! Very reasonable rates too (call to check - we got a lower rate than advertised on the website).

See previous post for more info. Please also see the flyer posted on the Shark Savers site, which includes links to full details about the proposed regulations.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Florida's Lemon Sharks Need Our Help!

As regulations tighten for other fish, lemons sharks and other large coastal shark species - already in trouble! - are facing increased fishing pressure. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is seeking feedback from the public on options for amending its shark management rules.

Commercial fishermen are gearing up now to target the winter lemon shark aggregations off Florida's coast. It's critical that as many people as possible speak up in support of greater protections for lemon sharks and other highly vulnerable large coastal shark species.

Please join Dr. Samuel Gruber, Walt Stearns, publisher of the Underwater Journal, and others who are concerned about the fate of Florida’s sharks in this effort to save lemon sharks and other highly vulnerable sharks.

Lemon sharks take 12 to 15 years to reach maturity and then only mate once every two years, have long gestation periods and give birth to a small number of young. These slow reproductive characteristics, very high first year mortality destruction of lemon shark nursery habitats, combine to make this species extremely vulnerable.

The lemon shark "aggregations" - large gatherings that take place off the coast of Florida in a small regional area close to shore with a highly predictable time frame, also make them easy targets for fishermen. Satellite tagging studies have proven that the lemon sharks that aggregate off Florida’s coastline have come from all up and down the East Coast of the US and the Bahamas.

Commercial targeting of Florida's lemon shark aggregations can severely deplete or even wipe out lemon sharks populations very quickly and will impact a large geographic area. This is a potential shark conservation disaster!

If at all possible, please attend this meeting and ask the FWC to add lemon sharks to the Prohibited Species List.

The FWC Meeting is will be held on September 10th 8:30 am. at:

Mission Inn
10400 County Road 48
Howey-in-the-Hills, FL
Phone: (352) 324-3101
Fax: (352)

Contact Shark Safe Network:

Friday, July 3, 2009

Shark Tournaments are targeting endangered Makos and Threshers - Urge them to go 100% Catch & Release

Here's a list of Shark Fishing Kill tournaments scheduled for the rest of this year on the East Coast. Please contact sponsors, organizers, Chambers of Commerce and local businesses to urge them to change to 100% Catch & Release. Many of them are targeting Makos and Threshers, which are now classified by the IUCN as Vulnerable - High Risk of Global Extinction. And they're just killing them for the fun of it!!

Please contact us for help with letters, brochures, etc. -- or

2009 List of Shark Fishing Tournaments – “Kill Tournaments”

This list is not complete. Please let us know about any kill shark tournaments you hear about in your area.


Destin Rodeo - Shark Saturdays -- Destin, FL -- Every Saturday in October


Newport Monster Shark &Tuna Tournament -- Aug 19 - 23rd, Newport, RI


Downeast Maine Shark Tournament -- Aug 28-29th, Saco, ME

Outcast Mega Shark Tournament - Pensacola, FL – Aug 7 – 9th




Montauk Boatman’s and Captain’s 31st Annual Charity Shark Tournament - July 10-12th, Montauk,LI

Monday, June 29, 2009

Third of open ocean sharks face extinction

A third of the world’s open water sharks – including the great white and hammerhead – face extinction, according to a major conservation survey.

Species hunted on the high seas are particularly at risk, with more than half in danger of dying out, reported the Shark Specialist Group at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Collapsing shark populations have already severely disrupted at least two coastal marine ecosystems, and could trigger even more severe consequences in the high seas, marine biologists warned at the same time.

The main culprit is overfishing. Sharks are prized for their meat, and in Asia especially for their fins, a prestige food thought to convey health benefits. The survey of 64 species of open water, or pelagic, sharks – the most comprehensive ever done – comes days before an international meeting on high-seas tuna fisheries that could potentially play a role in shark conservation.

For decades, significant numbers of sharks – including blue and mako – have perished as “by-catch” in commercial tuna and swordfish operations.

More recently, the soaring value of shark meat has prompted some of these fisheries to target sharks as a lucrative sideline, said Sonja Forham, Policy Director for the Shark Alliance, and co-author of the study. Sharks are especially vulnerable to overfishing because most species take many years to mature and have relatively few young.

Europe is the fastest growing market for meat from the porbeagle and another species, the spiny dogfish. The demand for shark fins, a traditional Chinese delicacy, has soared along with income levels in China over the last decade. Shark carcasses are often tossed back into the sea by fishermen after the fins are cut off. Despite bans in international waters, this practice – known as “finning” – is largely unregulated, experts say. The loss of sharks from the world’s oceans could have unpredictable impacts, say marine scientists.

“Removing large predators would deprive ecosystems of players that have been around for more than 400 million years,” said Francesco Ferretti, a researcher at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada.

The report identified the great hammerhead and scalloped hammerhead sharks, as well as giant devil rays as globally endangered. The smooth hammerhead, great white, basking, and oceanic whitetip sharks are listed as globally vulnerable to extinction, along with two species of makos and three types of threshers.

Some 100 million sharks are caught in commercial and sports fishing every year, and several species have declined by more than 80 percent in the past decade alone, according the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). afp

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Shark Safe Supporters Attend FWC Meetings in Dania Beach and Punta Gorda

As you know, one of Shark Safe's current campaigns is to encourage shark tournaments to change to catch-and-release only. Additionally we aim to stop shark fishing that is done solely for the purpose of trophy. We are not alone in this quest, which is good for the sharks. The recent study regarding the likely extinction of shark favorites like the great white and the hammerhead has garnered a lot of attention.

Fortunately the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is responding to the call for tighter management on shark fishing. Their goal was to seek feedback on options for amending its shark management rules that would comply with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Coastal Sharks. Over the past few weeks, workshops were held in different locations around the state. Some Shark Safe members as well as divers, fishermen, and shark scientists attended to give voice to the myriad topics.

Among the items discussed:

1. Overview of the ASMFC Plan Requirements -- Florida must comply with these rules, but may also be more restrictive
2. The ASMFC Plan applies to the Atlantic Coast of Florida -- should the same measures apply on the Gulf Coast?
3. Should Commercial and Recreational fisheries continue to be managed under the same rules?
4. Suggestions for alternative measures for shark management
5. Should FL rules be more restrictive than ASMFC?

And additionally:
1. Adding species to the Prohibited Species List
2. Banning "live mounts" for taxidermy
3. Protect breeding females by instituting maximum size limits to protect breeding female sharks
4. Require all Shark Tournaments to be 100% Catch and Release

In September there will be a draft rule hearing, then in December more public comments will be taken and the Commission will vote on it. Any new rules passed will go into effect in January 2010. In the meantime, please feel free to share your comments and suggestions.

Here are your contacts:

Aaron Podey, Fisheries Management Analyst :

Melissa Recks, Biological Scientist II:

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission:


Draft Addendum I to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Coastal Sharks for Public Comment

Public comment accepted until 5:00 PM EST, June 30, 2009
E-mail Comments to:


This is a good summary written after the Dania Beach workshop:

Additional background info on the FWC meetings:

We are definitely excited about the outcome of the workshops and have hope that new rules will result. Stay tuned...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Shark Entree Featured at Taste of Chicago; Humana Labels it a "Healthy Choice"

The popular food festival, Taste of Chicago, has begun and to our horror we have learned that shark is one of the featured offerings at the Polo Cafe's booth. They have been serving "Shark Vera Cruz" in their restaurant and at the Taste for years, along with "Shark and Olives." For some inconceivable reason, Humana Inc, a health benefits company, has decided to promote shark as one of the healthier choices at the Taste.

We have sent the following letter to Humana and we have contacted the organizers of the Taste of Chicago, the Polo Cafe and the Chicago Tribune, as well, to apprise them of the facts related to eating shark.

A recommendation from a large, respected health organization promoting shark meat as a healthy choice is huge blow to shark populations, which are already in serious trouble. In light of this week's IUCN report showing that a third of all open ocean sharks are threatened with extinction (, this recommendation is highly irresponsible. The Taste of Chicago, Humana and the Polo Cafe highlighting this menu item only encourages people to look for and request shark at grocery stores and restaurants.

We will keep you posted as to the response. In the meantime, please contact any of the following with your POLITE and RESPECTFUL comments! Please also contact any other media outlets that have run this story to urge them to give their readers and viewers the real facts. If you're in the Chicago area attending the festival, you may also stop by the booth and directly, but respectfully urge them to stop serving shark.

Polo Café:
Dave Samber - Owner
+1 (773) 927-POLO
Taste of Chicago 2009: June 26-July 5

Jim Turner - Manager, Corporate Media Relations
+1 (502) 476-2119

Taste of Chicago:
City of Chicago, Mayor's Office of Special Events (MOSE)
Megan McDonald, Executive Director
Mayor's Office of Special Events
121 N. LaSalle Street, Room 806
Chicago, IL 60602

Chicago Tribune:

• Local News: 312-222-3540
• Business: 312-222-5944
• Features: 312-222-3001
E-mail letter to the editor:

Here is the letter we emailed to Humana:

Dear Mr. Turner,

Humana is highly regarded as a leader in health care and known for enabling people to make well-informed decisions regarding their health care and healthy lifestyles. Which is why we are shocked at Humana’s decision to promote shark meat as one of the “healthier choice” entrees featured at the Taste of Chicago festival.

Humana has effectively provided a seal of approval for a product that carries warnings from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Environmental Defense Fund, Seafood Watch, the New York Department of Health, to name but a few organizations. With all of these highly respected entities publicly disagreeing with Humana’s recommendations, one might wonder how responsible and informed Humana’s recommendations truly are.

Indeed, there is much research and publicly available data regarding the serious health issues associated with consumption of shark meat due to the high levels of mercury and other contaminants in the shark’s flesh. Because of these health risks, most health organizations advise that women of child-bearing age and children should not consume any shark meat at all, and everyone else should limit consumption to no more than one serving per month. The Florida Dept. of Health goes further to warn that EVERYONE should avoid eating meat from any sharks over 43 inches.

In addition to the risks posed to people by consuming shark meat, there are significant health risks for our planet. Sharks around the world are threatened with extinction due to overfishing. Populations of many shark species have decreased by as much as 90% just in the past thirty years. As the apex predators of the oceans, the role of sharks is to keep other marine life in healthy balance and to regulate the world’s largest and most important ecosystem. Removing sharks seriously upsets this delicate balance. A number of studies are already indicating that regional elimination of sharks can cause disastrous effects including the collapse of fisheries and the death of coral reefs.

There are many healthy and responsible seafood choices available that provide high quality lean protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids without unnecessarily exposing consumers to mercury and other dangerous toxins and without damaging the environment ((please see attached Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Guide ( and Shark Fact Sheet (

Humana has been a leader in quality healthcare and health choices. By recommending safe and sustainable seafood choices, Humana can only stand to gain by leading the industry in environmental responsibility as well.

Now that Humana is aware of the situation, we cannot imagine you will stand behind these flawed recommendations. We respectfully request that Humana take a stand and immediately rescind its recommendation of shark as a healthy choice option. We further request that Humana issue a retracting statement to all media outlets to which these recommendations were promoted. Finally, the recommendation should be withdrawn from the literature at the Taste of Chicago booth. Instead, the public, especially women and children, should be properly warned about the dangers of consuming shark – consistent with the recommendations of the EPA and the FDA.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We will be happy to provide you with further research studies and to answer any questions you may have.

Best Regards,

Shark Safe

Shark Savers

Shark Angels

Sea Shepherd