Shark Savers 2011 – A Year in Review

Posted on January 27, 2012
Written by: Shark Savers

It was a big year for shark conservation and the Shark Savers team, along with our members, partners, and wonderful volunteers who all helped make it a productive one. We launched new outreach programs, coordinated with a strong coalition to support the passing of important regulations, and completed a year-long study on the plight of manta rays. Below is a review of our campaigns’ progress and program outreach for 2011; and a sneak-peak at plans for 2012.

Shark Savers’ Shark Fin Soup Campaign

    •  Shark Savers co-led the campaign with Misool Eco Resort to establish the Raja Ampat Shark Sanctuary, the first in Indonesia.
    • We rallied critical support from the dive community in support of the Palau Shark Sanctuary.
    • And, we joined forces with Pew Environment Group and WildAid to support local initiatives for shark and ray protection in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
     What’s next:
    • Investigating opportunities for new shark and ray sanctuaries in the Caribbean, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia with local NGOs, dive operators, and community leaders.
    • Engaging divers to support Shark Sanctuaries, including memberships, adoptions, and educational Shark Sanctuary dive trips.
    • Raising funds for a patrol boat for the Misool area of Raja Ampat Shark and Ray Sanctuary.
    • Partnering with dive operators, scientists, and communities to conduct sanctuary baseline surveys of shark populations.

    Manta Ray of Hope Project

    Shark Savers launched ‘I Pledge Not to Eat Shark Fin Soup’ in Hong Kong in the first quarter of 2011 in bothCantonese and English with a moving video, a new page on our website, and useful, downloadable materials allowing anyone to be a shark advocate and address the issue of shark fin soup, directly, in their own communities.

  • Boosted by a co-campaign with Lush Cosmetics and their 10 Hong Kong stores, ‘I Pledge’ was covered in over 80% of Hong Kong media outlets and obtained tens of thousands of pledges to not eat shark fin soup.

What’s next:

Our ‘I Pledge’ Campaign reached out to Asian consumers about the vital role sharks play in the oceans’ ecosystems and the threat of shark extinctions due to increased fishing pressures to supply the shark fin trade, all for a bowl of soup. I Pledge is Shark Savers’ growing campaign wherein members of Asian communities voice their personal reasons for pledging not to buy or eat shark fin soup and call upon the rest of their communities to join them. You can watch and share these powerful ‘I Pledge’ testimonies, here.  

  • We are expanding our education outreach in Asia. We are now incorporated in Hong Kong, have begun in Singapore, and are expanding the effort to China, Malaysia, and Taiwan. We have a new full-time team leader in Asia and an excellent new team in Malaysia.
  • Shark Savers is producing additional ‘I Pledge’ videos to include multi-generational Asian citizens, celebrities, and wedding participants. Stay tuned...

“Ban the Fin” Campaign

‘Ban the Fin’ is our on-going, international grassroots initiative to assist individuals and groups to end the sale of shark products in their community. This effort had its origins in 2010, when we supported the Hawaii legislative, local shark advocates, and conservation teams with documentation to explain and promote the importance of protecting sharks; working with excellent partners, our team efforts generated media attention, and drove international support for the world’s first shark fin trade ban.

  • coalition of organizations to pass similar legislation, resulting in laws to prohibit the possession and sale of shark fins in Oregon, Washington, and California, thus closing down the U.S. West Coast to shark fin transshipment and consumption. Our ‘Ban the Fin’ petition has already garnered 50,000+ supporters (adding together online and physically-gathered signatures). Once again, we partnered with Lush Cosmetics for this important campaign.
  • At the local level, in St. Louis MO, we worked with a local volunteer, divers and concerned citizens to stop selling thresher shark steaks in all the stores of a regional supermarket chain. The supermarket chain complied and no longer authorize the sale of shark steaks in their stores. See the story.

What’s next:

  • ‘Ban the Fin’ is expanding to communities worldwide, preparing efforts to support additional shark fin bans in several states and support more local community efforts throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Shark and Ray Sanctuary Program

Shark Savers’ Shark Sanctuary Program works to support and create marine areas where sharks and rays can be protected by strong laws and functioing enforcement with the full engagement of local communities.

Highly vulnerable manta and mobula populations are being eradicated for their gills. Shark Savers partnered with WildAid and a team of the top manta researchers in the world to create the Manta Ray of Hope project – a collaboration of non-profit organizations, researchers, dive operators, governments and local communities to save mantas and mobulas from this unsustainable trade.  

  •  The Manta Ray of Hope team completed the most comprehensive study of manta and mobula fisheries, the gill-raker market, and manta eco-tourism ever conducted; it is availablehere. This comprehensive report brough significant media attention to the issue while also providing meaninful conservation options and solutions by emphasizing the high eco-tourism value of these animals.
  • Our report informed the delegates of the 2011 Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). The CMS agreed to establish the first international protections for mantas.

What’s next:

  • In January 2012, we released the report Manta Ray of Hope: The Global Threat to Manta and Mobula Rays. Download the report.
  • As part of the Manta Ray of Hope project team, we are continuing to work urgently towards establishing trade bans and mobulid protections throughout their range.

SharksCount

SharksCount engages divers as ‘citizen scientists’ with training and by providing the tools to log and identify the sharks they see on their recreational dives. The SharksCount database will provide essential information about local shark population trends with the potential of improving protections for sharks.  

  • Our SharksCount initiative launched in Florida with several dive and eco-tourism operators and many volunteer divers signing up to join the program.
  •  We created a short film, “Now, More Than Ever Sharks Count” that examines the ‘shifting baseline’ concept of shark populations in Florida by interviewing some of the very first shark divers. The film was used to introduce new divers to the importance of logging and sharing shark-sighting data.
  • SharksCount divers’ data was used to help researchers more effectively locate a dwindling lemon shark aggregation for on-going tagging studies.

What’s next:

  • The Sharks Count program will launch in Massachusetts, California, Hong Kong and Fiji; and a new online data and mapping tool will soon be available on Shark Savers’ website.
  • SharksCount is partnering to conduct a baseline survey of sharks. Stay tuned for more details…