Friday, May 22, 2009
I want to join the many voices congratulating the Shark Safe Project for a successful outcome! Also, any successful outcome is worthy of in-depth study and analysis: we need to learn what they did right so that we can emulate their success elsewhere!
This successful outcome is a big deal, but it certainly doesn’t mean that we shark conservationists have nothing left to do. There are similar tournaments nationwide and worldwide, as well as numerous other threats to sharks.
Let’s look at how they did it.
1) Nonviolent, non-invasive methods. If they had used Sea Shepherd’s tactics of vandalism, in-your-face protests, destroying fishing boats involved in this tournament, and antagonizing participating fisherman, I don’t believe that there would have been a successful outcome. I believe that we would not only have a shark killing tournament, but would also have a group of people hostile towards shark conservation in general because they have been irritated by extremists. Instead, Shark Safe wrote letters to the editor of newspapers and appeared on news shows, spoke to groups of citizens, and spoke to tournament organizers and local officials.
2) Offering an alternative. Shark Safe organizers didn’t call for the tournament to be canceled, they simply requested a format change from “kill” to “catch-and-release”. If they had taken a more extreme approach, it is extremely unlikely that they would have been successful. Tournament organizers had already spent a great deal of money and time promoting this tournament and would likely have been unwilling to cancel it. All the studies I’ve seen show that sharks suffer no long-term damage from catch-and-release fishing (indeed, that’s how we shark scientists study sharks to begin with). If you tell a fisherman that they can’t fish at all, they’re not going to listen to you. If you explain to a fisherman why it’s a good idea to change their methods (and provide them with an alternative), maybe they’ll listen like they did here.
3) Mobilizing a large group of talented people. Felix at Oceanic dreams has a list of some of the important players involved, but the list includes shark scientists, NGO leaders, and media and public relations experts from around the country. They also recruited passionate locals. It is impossible to know which of these groups was the most helpful, but it is easy to see how leaving out one of these groups could have resulted in an unsuccessful outcome. Scientists provide credibility, and NGOs are experts in organizing and educating, but both groups have had difficulty with the media’s coverage of sharks in the past. These three groups, who came from (and worked from without actually coming to Florida) all over the country might not have been listened to without the participation of locals, because strangers are sometimes not trusted as much as neighbors even if they are experts.
When all of these factors came together, we have a successful outcome, and some sharks in Florida won’t die needlessly this summer.
Congratulations to everyone who helped make this possible. My only regret is that I didn’t help.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The "Are you Man Enough? Shark Challenge" has just been changed to 100 % catch & release!
The decision came after an on onslaught of public pressure generated by Shark Safe.
For the past weeks, support for changing the tournament from kill to 100 % catch & release was coming from all around including the public, media, and the County Commissioner Ray Judah.
"Today is a victory for sharks" says Lawrence Groth of Shark Safe, "Thanks to all those who showed their support by spreading the word, voting online, contacting tournament organizers and sponsors and speaking with Fort Myers Community Officials."
Shark Safe was planning a rally for May 23 & 24 in Fort Myers Beach with the goals of changing the tournament.
Now - The Shark Conservation Rally is still on in Fort Myers - but the purpose is to celebrate this victory and educate the public at the event about the wonders of and perils faced by sharks!!
SHARK CONSERVATION RALLY
ONLY SATURDAY MAY 23 (NOT SUNDAY).
Meeting Location: Lynn Hall Park in Fort Myers Beach (walking distance from Snug Harbor where the tournament will be held).
Shark Safe is already beginning working on plans for next years tournament to help promote shark conservation and establish a tag and release program.
Please Join Shark Safe on Saturday May 23 to celebrate this victory and educate the public!!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
On May 23 and 24, 2009, Shark Safe will be hosting a public Shark Conservation Rally to effect change in the upcoming “Are You Man Enough Shark Challenge” (AYMESC) shark tournament. Our goal is to convince the AYMESC officials to change the current tournament format from kill to 100% catch-and-release.
The Shark Safe Rally will involve many participants from all over Florida and the US. Our message to the local community is that live sharks are much more valuable than dead sharks. We also want to educate the public on plight of sharks and why they are so vital in our delicate ecosystem. Shark Safe and our many supporters believe that an event called “Shark Fest” should in fact celebrate sharks and that no event should slaughter sharks for the sole purpose of competition.
Sharks play important structuring roles as the top predators in the ocean. In today’s world there is no room for such wasteful and needless practices such as this shark kill tournament. Sharks are slow to mature, reproduce and have low reproductive output. The AYMESC is specifically only killing the largest sharks, which are the sexually mature and pregnant animals sustaining the population. So, even killing a few can have a large effect on the population. Unnecessarily killing sharks also will also translate into fewer sharks for our future generations to enjoy, catch and release. A simple format change will still enable fisherman to enjoy the sport of it, while also contributing to the wellness of the planet.
For those who wish to participate in the Shark Safe Rally for Shark Conservation, it will be held in Fort Myers Beach, May 23 and 24, 2009 meet at 11:00 AM at Lynn Hall Park. The local authorities are aware of our rally and are not against it.
Some suggested sign slogans:
Celebrate Sharks! Do Not Slaughter them!
Protecting Sharks means protecting our Planet
We need Oceans, Oceans need sharks
Are you man enough to save our planet? Stop killing sharks!
100 % Catch & Release
The AYMESC is scheduled to take place June 6 and 7, 2009, as part of a large scale street fair and boat show called “Shark Fest 2009” in Fort Myers Beach, FL. For information on the shark tournament, go to this link: http://www.areyoumanenoughsharkchallenge.com/
Feel free to contact the sponsors to enlighten them on the real shark story.
Please RSVP if you are planning to attend the Rally on May 23-24 2009
Thursday, May 7, 2009
The purpose of the initiative is to educate the public about the importance of sharks in our marine eco-systems and promote 'Catch & Release' practices throughout the coastal waters of the US and beyond.
We feel that the harvesting of sharks for photo images or trophies is not in the best interests of the US or worldwide tourism. By asking marinas to prohibit vessels from arriving at their facilities with captured or deceased sharks, we hope to encourage responsible sport fishing, thereby ensuring a lasting and healthy population of sharks in the US and international waters for future generations and contributing to the overall health of the worlds oceans.
The decision by the marina's management to support this initiative should be based on the best available science that proves that sharks play a critical role in balancing the health of the ocean and, in fact, pose very little threat to people.
Shark Safe asks for your support in ensuring that the worlds oceans stay healthy, clean and teeming with fish for generations to come.
For more information about the Shark Safe Marinas Initiative,
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
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 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
Here are a list of Sponsors of the "Are You Man Enough Shark Challenge".
Please contact them and explain to them your views and concerns regarding the killing of sharks in this tournament.
When contacting the sponsor establishment please be polite and just voice your opinion. Please do not make any type of threats. Remember you are probably only going to get an employee that does not have any control over the establishments policies, You should ask to speak to a manager.
The Are You Man Enough Shark Challenge Director:
Jack Donlon (239) 443-6509 SharkChallenge@aol.com 1443 Windsor Ct. Cape Coral, Fl 33904
SPONSORS and SUPPORTERS
HOST Establishment: The Snug Harbor Restaurant 239-463-8077
The Crane Company that has donated the Giant Crane to hoist the BIG Monsters up :
Cape Dock Supply 239-283-4287
Land Shark Lager
Phone: (239) 277-7335 email@example.com
Yucatan Beach Stand
Smokin Oyster Brewery 239-463-3474
Matanzas Inn Restaurant (239) 463-3838
Matanzas INN 800-462-9258 OR 239-463-9258
THE BOAT PLACE
Fort Myers Location 239-415-6400 Toll Free: 866-488-5147
Naples Location 239-793-8040 Toll Free: 866-416-5625
Dear Shark Safe Supporters
We apologize for our brief absence. We are back online and ready to continue with the Shark Safe Project Action Plan.
We currently have several projects in the works.
#1 We are organizing a Protest Demonstration targeting a Shark Tournament in Fort Myers Florida. The (get this)"Are You Man Enough Shark Challenge" is scheduled to take place June 6-7 2009 in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. The Protest Demonstration will take place May 23-24 2009. Stand By for details.
#2 We are establishing a Shark Safe Marina Initiative in the US, begining in Florida. (You know us! Just jump in the flames were the fire is the hottest!)
#3 We are returning to San Francisco's Chinatown and meeting with several prominent local Chefs to begin a major campaign to have Shark Fin Soup removed from restaurants.
More details to follow soon!
May the Sharks be with you,
The Shark Safe Team