On April 22, 2012 a group of Force-E divers set out to dive for Sharks on Earth Day. Project Aware encouraged divers all around the world to dive for sharks this year and to make sure they took the PADI Shark Conservation Diver course and sign the petition. It is time to get these sharks the protection they need. Sharks are being wiped out in all oceans. It is estimated that 38 million sharks are killed each year, and at this rate we are driving them into extinction. They might be a great predator but humans have far surpassed their abilities.
Sharks are apex predators which means they are on top of their ecosystem. When we wipe them out we create an unbalance of all the other organisms in this ecosystem: the fish, the reef, and even the macroalgae. Overfishing is the main cause of the rapid decline in shark populations, and the second top threat is bycatch from fishing methods. The demand for shark products, like their fins and meat, has made every species of shark a target.
In 2011, President Obama signed the Shark Conservation Act. The new law prohibits any boat to carry shark fins without the corresponding number and weight of carcasses, and all sharks must be brought to port with their fins attached. Within the US, states like Hawaii, CA, WA, OR, and IL have enacted legislation making it illegal to possess, sell or distribute shark fins. These are all steps in the right direction and we encourage other countries to take a stand.
Worldwide there are countries that realize the value of sharks alive. Countries like Raja Ampat, Indonesia, Bahamas, Australia, Honduras, Colombia, Chile, the Maldives, and Palau have all created shark sanctuaries. In 2011, the Marshall Islands became home of the largest shark sanctuary (four times the size of CA) where no commerical fishing is allowed and no possession of shark products.
So what Can Divers do to Help Sharks…
- Be aware of what you are eating, download the Seafood Watch App for your phone.
- Get a Save Our Seas Florida license plate, which supports ocean exploration, water quality studies and a variety of innovative offshore and inshore research programs
- Get out and dive with sharks, learn the best practices when observing sharks and support countries with shark sanctuaries.
- Push for shark-free marinas
- When fishing, use Catch & Release methods and Use circle hooks
- No not buy shark products: teeth & jaws, shark cartilage pills, shark meat, shark skin used to make leather, and some cosmetics have shark it them.
- Support government bans, know the Florida shark bans
- Join Shark Savers, and the SharksCount program
- Sign the Project Aware Petition
- Join Project Aware’s My Ocean site