Another busy month for Shark Guardian started with a visit to Dive Shops in Phuket, Khao Lak and Koh Lanta meaning we now have 5 official centres in Thailand and 1 in East Timor! Liz also took part in a Shark Expo in Bangkok and presented in Brunei and Bangkok, while Brendon spoke with fisheries representatives in East Timor.
Hidden Depths Diving became our first official Shark Guardian Centre and are working closely with us and SeeandSea to get the 'Get Sharks of the Hook' Campaign rolled out in to Koh Lanta over the Thai low season. Our long term friends at Lanta Diver quickly followed suit along with Sea Dragon and IQ in Khao Lak.
Sara Kench from Scuba Cat was only too happy to become our first Phuket contact and had enquiries about our tshirts almost immediately when she posted the news! We look forward to working with these centres on shark projects, school tours and eco field trips. If anyone is interested in their dive shop becoming a Shark Guardian Dive Centres then please email us!
The Shark and Whale Expo held at Harrow International School by the Year 2 students at the start of April was a delight for Liz to attend.The children showed their presentations, puppet shows, leaflets and picture displays to parents and teachers and got people to sign a pledge never to eat shark fin soup. A massive success for the students as well as sharks!
As Brendon headed off to East Timor, Liz visited Brunei presenting at the 2 International schools there. Firstly Jerudung, targeting almost the whole school with 3 sessions including an auditorium of 800 people!! Then at the end of the week International School Brunei, covering another 900 children in 3 sessions and encouraging follow up events.
Whilst in Brunei Liz also visited the local fish market with the reception class of Jerudung and saw many sad sights including baby reef sharks and rays. We hope to be involved in some conservation efforts and education programs to change these images which are all too common sites around Asia now.
After Brunei Liz spent earth week at International School Bangkok spreading Shark Guardians messages even further along with the Fin Free Thailand crew. A massive success with eleven presentations over 3 days means another few hundred students and teachers have learnt many new facts about sharks and hopefully will never eat shark fin soup. After this busy 2 weeks we were pleased to know another 2500 people had been educated by Shark Guardian.
Whilst in East Timor teaching an Instructor Development course Brendon made the most of his time by presenting to the Fisheries Department of East Timor. Brendon was invited to the meeting by Rui, one of the local marine biologists and researcher for the area and spoke about the role of Sharks in oceans, Sharks of East Timor, Threats to sharks, Sharks and Eco Tourism and Fisheries Management plans.
Members were impressed by the presentation and project ideas for better management for sharks and marine protected areas were discussed. Education is a big part of the long term goals and this is where Shark Guardian can get more involved with government projects for local communities of East Timor. Progress is being made here and with Dive Timor Lorasae also becoming a Shark Guardian Dive Centre, keep an eye out for more developments in East Timor!
The 'Get Sharks off the Hook' campaign continues to gain momentum and many more dive centres and restaurants are now signed up in Khao Lak. We are excited to see the progress made on Koh Lanta in the coming months and hope all our followers will support Seeandsea and this campaign also.
Finally in the news this last month, just last week New Caledonia became the latest Pacific Island to implement a shark fin ban, also banning shark feeding activities. Shortly after this the New York state Senate voted unanimously to ban the shark fin trade. The bill now heads to the Assembly, which passed the same measure last year, only to have it die in the Senate without a vote. Since California and four other states banned the sale, purchase and distribution of shark fins, New York has become the leading hub of trade for the coveted product in the United States. We will all watch with anticipation as this (hopefully) makes historical progress.
Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon and Washington state already have similar bans in place, and a measure to outlaw the trade in Maryland awaits the governor’s signature.
So a busy month and it is going to get more busy as we embark on our first Hong Kong Tour next month, the first presentation starting on the 20th of May. More information on this coming soon!!