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

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