Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Shark Kill Tournament Protest Demonstration in Fort Myers Beach FL.

Over the past few weeks the Shark Safe Team has been voicing its opposition to a shark fishing tournament scheduled to take place June 6-7 in Fort Myers Florida. The tournament allows killing sharks rather than 100% catch-and-release. All of our attempts to overturn this practice have failed.

So now we need your help!

Shark Safe is organizing a protest demonstration against the “Are You Man Enough Shark Challenge” in Fort Myers, Florida. This shark tournament is boasting catch and release, as well as “Bring Back the BIG ONE” shark kills. The tournament organizer Jack Donlon has been contacted by many shark conservationists and prominent shark researchers from the state of Florida in an attempt to discourage them from taking or killing sharks for the sole purpose of proving the “Manhood of the Fishermen”. Thus far, no adjustment to the rules has been made as Mr. Donlon has simply disregarded these pleas.

Shark Safe is opposed to all killing of sharks however we are EXTREMELY opposed to tournaments such as this abomination! Here are some unbiased and logical reasons, which have been presented to Mr. Donlon, why tournaments such as this one are so terrible for sharks:

* Most of the large sharks being targeted are on the IUCN list of endangered species.
* Populations of large shark species have been reduced by over 90% in the past 30 years
(over 100 million sharks killed per year worldwide -- mostly for shark fin soup).
* 80-90% of all shark populations just in the Atlantic have been reduced to levels that
scientist believe can never recover.
* As apex predators, sharks are absolutely vital to the ocean's ecosystem -- they
maintain the balance in the oceans. Without sharks the oceans die.
* "Kill" shark tournaments promote the outdated and inaccurate image of sharks as vicious
man killers that need to be killed.

In addition to these obvious problems, the current format of the tournament encourages
killing of the largest and likely sexually mature sharks. And since each team is only
allowed to bring in one dead shark to be weighed, it promotes catching and killing sharks
such that at the end of the tournament, each team will only keep the biggest one to be
weighed in, while discarding the rest of the sharks back into the water deceased.

If that information does not get your blood boiling CHECK THIS OUT!!!

The “Are You Man Enough Shark Challenge” website had a page, "Who Benefits", which stated
that “the meat from the sharks harvested will be donated to the Fort Myers Chapter Salvation
Army Homeless Center”, and that "The Center is thrilled at the prospect of receiving such a
donation of food for those who will appreciate it most."

However we at Shark Safe along with some of our supporters have contacted the people from the Fort Myers Salvation Army and the Fort Myers Rescue Mission (the organization that reportedly received the shark meat donated from the tournament last year after the Salvation Army turned it down), and it appears that neither Jack Donlon nor any other tournament official has even contacted them yet about donating shark meat from this year's tournament. So we called to ask Mr. Donlon why the website says "the center is thrilled"? Mr. Donlon responded that “I was wasting his phone minutes” and hung up. And since that call they have removed that page and posted a "Our ECO-Outlook" page. Seems like they may be in fact feeling a little pressure!! Squirm, Mr. Donlon, Squirm!!!

I wanted to also ask Mr. Donlon why he didn't just make a donation to the two organizations with the tournament proceeds if he wanted to project the kills in a positive light. Or why not ask the participants and/or visitors to bring food or other donations to the event? How is offering toxic shark meat to the homeless giving back to the community? It should be a crime!

We now have sent both of these organizations the following information regarding meat from
sharks caught in Florida coastal waters. This 2008 publication from the FL Dept. of
Health titled "Your Guide to Eating Fish Caught in Florida" says the following with
regard to sharks (page 21):

For all Florida coastal waters, all shark species:

Sharks less than 43 inches -- Women of child bearing age and young children - DO NOT EAT
; Everyone else - Limit to one serving per month
Sharks 43 inches or more -- Women of child bearing age and young children - DO NOT EAT;
Everyone else - DO NOT EAT

Since all of the sharks targeted in the tournament will be well over 43 inches, and those
brought in for the weigh-in will most likely be at least double that size, all
of the shark meat that the event officials plan to donate will be in the DO NOT EAT category for EVERYONE.

Here's a link to the full report:

We would like Mr. Donlon to know that most shark tournaments today are going to catch-and-release only, and these tournaments are very successful. Switching to catch-and-release will not take away from any financial benefit that this event might bring to the community. On the contrary, it will
make the event more sustainable. A catch-and-release or tag-and-release tournament can
send a positive conservation message to the community and cast sport fishermen in a
positive light. A wasteful, bloody spectacle, however, will only generate negative
press, and we hope jeopardize the prospects for continuing this tournament in
the future.

The Protest Demonstration will be held May 23 and 24 2009 in Fort Myers Beach, Florida,
Participants will meet at
View Map  Lynn Hall Park at 11:00 AM. Please bring a sign or banner to get your message out.

Save Our Sharks!! We need your support. Please attend if at all possible.
These types of events must end NOW!

May the Sharks be with you,
The Shark Safe Team

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