The global trade in shark fins has decimated sharks everywhere, but some countries moved quickly to protect their animals. In Brazil, however, not only have sharks and rays received no protection, but fishing industry tycoons have been given free rein to slaughter them. The shark fin exports to Asia continue to be legal, as the trade in shark fins serves as cover-up for shipments of other types of illicit contraband.
Divers for Sharks, a global initiative based in Brazil, has sent out a plea for help to ocean lovers. If you, too, want sharks alive, please add your voice to the demand that two key protected areas be established where their populations may have a chance to recover.
Divers for Sharks was started in 2010 to confront the grim reality, and is sending a strong message to the perpetrators of the slaughter : “We want our sharks alive!” It has already become a global coalition of more than 15,000 diving businesses, and professional, and recreational divers. The dive industry is increasingly alarmed by the degree of ocean degradation that is being witnessed by divers.
Dive sites with degraded coral reefs, devoid of sharks and other fish, are a disaster for the industry, and this is what overfishing and climate change are leaving behind. Divers for Sharks has influenced the adoption of conservation measures from a dive industry perspective, through attending meetings of the CITES Convention on Endangered Species and the Convention on Biodiversity, and lobbying on behalf of the non-extractive uses of marine wildlife.
Among other things, the organization is working to establish two key protected areas off Brazil's 8000 km coastline, and the campaign coordinators are asking for help from divers and ocean lovers worldwide in order to speed up the creation of both protected areas.
One is the creation of a new National Park called Albardão, in the extreme south of Brazil. In those stormy waters a treasure trove of marine species is hidden, including many little-known sharks and rays, and a hammerhead shark nursery area. Migratory shorebirds use the coast, and could provide a new attraction for regional eco-tourism, replacing with benefits, the meagre revenue of dwindling fisheries.
The other project is to make the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha into a shark sanctuary. Declared a National Park in 1988 and a World Heritage Site in 2001, this group of islands some 360 km off north-eastern Brazil is the very last place in the country where you can still regularly dive with sharks. Yet, landing and selling shark and ray meat is still allowed there. Divers for Sharks is negotiating with the state government of Pernambuco, which has authority over the islands, to ban these practices and make it possible to promote it as the shark diving destination in Brazil.
To learn more about the Albardão National Park proposal and send your support message, you can go to http://www.redeprouc.org.br/campanhas/supporting-the-creation-of-the-alb...
To state your support for the proposal of the Fernando de Noronha Shark and Ray Sanctuary, simply send an email to Pernambuco State Secretary of the Environment, Mr. Sergio Xavier, at firstname.lastname@example.org
To join Divers for Sharks, click here : http://www.d4s.eco.br
If you are on Facebook, you can connect with Divers for Sharks here : www.facebook.com/diversforsharks
Some of the documents distributed by Divers for Sharks can be read at:
A glimpse of the protest against the visit of the Chinese Prime Minister (subtitles in English)
Divers for Sharks, and the problems that sharks face in Brazil, will be the subject of a feature article in the next issue of X-ray Dive Magazine.
Ila France Porcher
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