Registered Charity Number: 1152654
Monthly Update: June 2013
Another busy month for Shark Guardian and for shark conservation in general. Even in the last few days the banning of shark fin in certain airlines is raising questions and as California’s shark fin ban roars in to place on the 1st of July, sharks remain clearly in the headlines.
Shark Guardian started the month off with the end of our Hong Kong school tour. This included a scuba dive in the waters of Clear Water Bay, thanks to our new friend Paul Whitehead of Eco Marine. We had an awesome time being totally surprised by the variety or marine life in the shallow, cool waters, seeing evidence of the regeneration of reefs since the trawling ban implemented at the start of the year.
Shortly after we arrived back in Thailand, great news came from Brunei with the announcement that this will be the first Asian country to ban shark finning plus any sale or possession of shark products! This will take effect from 1st of August. Brendon took Shark Guardian to Brunei 2 years ago, presenting at 1 International School and the environmental conference which included a discussion on local sharks and how they needed to be protected. Liz returned in April this year presenting at 2 schools with over 2000 children seeing the presentations, so we know we have had influence in spreading the knowledge about sharks and their need for protection. We welcome this news and hope other Asian Countries take note!!
As California starts its shark fin and shark product ban, with shops selling products offerring mega discounts over the past weeks, still in the air is the possibility that the US could introduce legislation that could undermine shark fin bans that have been introduced in seven US states (as well as Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands).
Although the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) wants to make it compulsory for all sharks to be imported into the US with their fins attached (which is a good thing as it restricts the barbaric practice of shark finning), they have also unfortunately introduced language into the proposed regulations that could undermine progress that has been made not only in the seven states that have already introduced shark fin bans, but also in those where a ban is about to be introduced (New York) or where it is being worked on (eg Massachusetts).
A busy month for the airlines, Qantas being the latest airline to fully ban transporting shark fins on the 26th June after initially saying it would carry ‘sustainable’ fins. This is the card being played by Air Pacific, now known as Fiji Airways and also Cathay Pacific, who led the way with a ban last September. The conservation world is all asking ‘how can shark fins be sustainable?’ and feel these are cheap efforts to be part of the positive publicity surrounding these kind of bans, but the movement does put pressure on them to make the bans full.
Air New Zealand, Korean Air and Seoul-based Asiana Airlines have announced blanket bans on the carriage of shark fin, actions we highly commend here at Shark Guardian. Meanwhile Cathay are now being questioned after originally declaring a full ban yet now saying they will try and carry sustainable sources. lets hope they come to their senses soon and other airlines follow suit with their own bans!
Japanese retailer Muji continues to come under heavy fire for its refusal to stop selling shark fin soup. Muji Japan markets itself as a company that cares about the planet and sustainability. But instead of recognising that killing vast numbers of a top predator like sharks is hugely wasteful and detrimental to the future of both sharks and the health of the oceans, MUJI Japan has chosen to go on the defensive, saying that the only way they will stop selling shark fin soup is if the Japanese government bans it.
Branches of MUJI in other countries are taking a much more common sense stance on the shark fin issue. MUJI Taiwan agreed to stop selling shark fin soup several weeks ago. Even MUJI Hong Kong (at the epicentre of the shark fin trade) announced that they would not be selling shark fin dishes in their café. Pressure on them continues with protests and a petition which we are promoting on our website. We have also had fun making origami sharks with the Thailand Fin Free crew. The aim is to get supporters to make 1000 paper sharks and then they will be sent to the Muji head office, to show that people care and they should too.
The origami sharks were part of an afternoon Shark Guardian spent at Patana Bangkok as part of their students convention on the 25th of June. We talked about shark finning and showed shark species to 30 students, and Fin Free Thailand and the Ocean Artists Society spoke about their projects too. Prior to this we had a fab time returning to Regents International in Pattaya to do 2 days of follow up sessions in classes, announce our competition winners and give a talk all about great white sharks! The pupils at regents were as welcoming as ever and we look forward to returning there later in the year.
We also enjoyed returning to St Stephens International in Bangkok on the 27th, again to announce competition winners and chat to pupils. Another outstanding effort from the children here – check out all the winners so far in our previous blogs. We can see the future of Shark Guardian evolving in front of our eyes!
Finally, we need your help in our survey. We are trying to get as many people to shark their views about aquariums. Please spare a minute (especially if you are a diver) to fill in thissurvey. Aquariums are often asked about and discussed at our presentations, but we want to now what YOU all think. The results so far are proving very interesting!
Thanks again this month to all those who have supported and helped Shark Guardian in any way. We are very close to getting accepted as a UK charity and hope that allows us to continue our mission as we gain sponsorship. Your support is very crucial to us so we can contiue spreading our message – 8000+ so far this year and with more presentations in the pipeline we will easily reach 10,000+ by the end of the year. Shark conservation and making a difference starts with better education and understanding. We believe everybody can make a difference in the journey to help save our sharks.