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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sabah Fishing Tournament To Promote Anti-shark Finning

Something nice from Sabah to follow up from this article.
Sabah Fishing Tournament To Promote Anti-shark Finning
February 25, 2009 15:33 PM, Bernama

KOTA KINABALU, Feb 25 (Bernama) -- The Sabah Anglers' Association (SAA) will use the Sabah International Fishing Tournament 2009 as a platform for its Anti-Shark Finning Campaign.

The campaign's committee chairman, Nilakrisna James, said SAA was concerned at the depletion of unique fish in Sabah waters, including protected species like sharks.

"In the past, we have voiced our concern on suspicious marine activities taking place in Sabah waters which received lukewarm response from the authorities.

"We do not need a global boycott from the increasingly green-conscious international travellers to take matters seriously," she said at a press conference on the tournament here today.

Nilakrisna said SAA was campaigning not only to ban shark finning activities in the state, but also at the universal level.

"The ban should be universal and not just for the reason of protecting the tourism integrity or the diving business in the state," she said.-- BERNAMA

Whale shark on 60 Minutes

Whale sharks are in danger of being hunted for their fins and now also the face the terrible fate of captivity. Liam Bartlett and 60 Minutes investigates.

Resorts World at Sentosa want to import whale sharks for their "marine life park" as well, we need to stop this cruelty in the name of research and conservation!

Marvels of the deep, 60 Minutes
September 9, 2007: It's the size of a bus, the biggest, most majestic fish in the sea. No wonder they call it the whale shark. And we can tell you, up close it looks pretty scary. Fortunately for Liam Bartlett, though, this particular monster from the deep is harmless, one of those gentle giants.

And that's been it's downfall. That and the fact it's considered a delicacy in Asia. But now there's a new, unexpected threat. It's become a huge tourist drawcard. A major attraction for super aquariums around the world. And, tragically, for the whale shark, that attraction can be fatal.

LIAM BARTLETT: But not all whale sharks thrive in captivity. Put simply, these big fish don't do well in small ponds. Two have already died here this year. On average, whale sharks in aquariums rarely survive more than three years. Extraordinary, considering they can live for up to 150 years in the ocean. If you've got state-of-the-art facilities and you've only got a 50 percent success rate do you still reject the notion that it's not good to keep these things in captivity?

PAUL WATSON (Sea Shepherd Conservation Society): The greatest impact is on the sharks. People might learn — they die. There must be other ways of learning without having to kill the animals.

RAY DAVIS (Georgia Aquarium): And we're not. What we have ...

PAUL WATSON: You already have. You already have.

LIAM BARTLETT: Gentleman, look at this. Look at the size of that. They dive to 1500 metres in the wild. This tank is 10 metres deep. How can that not be cruel?

RAY DAVIS: We take a look in understanding why do they dive deep — we have other animals that occur deep or move throughout a water column as well as migratory.

LIAM BARTLETT: Well, what does that mean, 'Move through a water column'. What does that mean? This thing dives up to 1500m in the wild. This is 10m deep.

PAUL WATSON: And it swims for thousands of miles.

RAY DAVIS: It's been demonstrated that animals that we see ranging widely do very well in zoos and aquarium settings.

Click here to watch the video

Friday, February 20, 2009

Filmmakers take viewers under water for an eco-lesson

It's better down here where it's wetter
Filmmakers take viewers under water for an eco-lesson

By Katherine Monk, Canwest News Service February 19, 2009

You might think Howard Hall is a little light-headed from all the helium mixtures and recycled air he's been breathing for the past 20 years, but the world's most respected filmmaker in flippers is dead serious when he says we're playing with extinction.

"We've seen dramatic decreases in large fish populations around the world. The habitats are threatened, the oceans are warmer and we've been overfishing too long. Over the years, these shifts have been tremendous, but we can't see them on land because all the evidence is under water -- where only a few people have the privilege of bearing witness to the devastation," he says, smiling.

"It's important to educate people about what's happening in these environments because so much of what we take for granted comes from the ocean, and not just fish -- but all manner of natural life. It's the ocean that absorbs most of the greenhouse gases, but even at that, they're close to absorbing all the CO2 they can. We're closing in on the point of no return."

Hall has seen the devastation up close. Over the past decade, he's watched coral reefs bleach out and die. He's witnessed the dramatic decline in shark populations thanks to the growing popularity of shark fin soup. He's also seen the media deflecting the blame away from modern technology and human causes, and back to the natural world.

Divers threaten to boycott Sabah over shark finning

Wah, I wanted to go to Sipadan this year too but now I think I will boycott Sabah too! I always believe that us divers have a unique relationship with the ocean and its creatures and we need to speak up for them!

Divers threaten to boycott Sabah over shark finning
2009/02/16, By : Julia Chan, The New Straits Times Online

KOTA KINABALU: Sipadan conjures up an image of a serene, protected underwater world -- one of the world's top dive spots.

But just a half-hour boat ride away off Pulau Mabul, the blood of magnificent sharks, crudely finned and gutted by the boatload stains the sea red.

Shark finning has been going on here for several years, and the stark contrast between Sipadan and Mabul has caused an uproar in the international diving community, with some threatening to boycott Sabah entirely.

Finning is the inhumane practice of hacking off the shark's fins and throwing its still living body back into the sea.

A diver said: "Why should we contribute to the decline of a beautiful area by supporting a place which does not protect its own resources?

Asked to comment, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said: "My ministry will relay our concern to the Fisheries Department and the Semporna district officer.

"We need to be sensitive to global views to protect our tourism. A small mistake or inaction could have major repercussions for the industry. Nature lovers and the global conservation community are fast becoming an influential lobbying group who could hurt the state tourism industry if they decide to boycott Sabah in protest against such activities."

Saturday, February 14, 2009

'Free Shark Campaign' Gains Momentum in Dubai

If so many wildlife organisations around the world are protesting about whale sharks in captivity then why is Singapore purposely doing exactly the same controversial thing! It's obviously negatively viewed internationally, and most importantly the future of this vulnerable species is at stake!

'Free Shark Campaign' Gains Momentum in Dubai
Published Thursday, February 12, 2009, Written by The Media Line Staff

Pressure is increasing on the five-star Atlantis hotel in Dubai to release the whale-shark known as Sammy, which has been kept in aquarium at the hotel for 160 days.

Several wildlife groups have issued a statement in a local newspaper supporting the “Free Sammy” campaign. Signatures to the plea include Emirates Wildlife Society–World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), WWF International Global Species Program, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Emirates Environment Group and the Abu Dhabi Natural History Group.

According to the open letter, the whale-shark – which despite its name is a large plankton eating fish, which can grow to be 40 feet long and weigh up to 13.6 tons – is listed as an endangered species by several international conservation organizations and is vulnerable to extinction.

Whale sharks migrate extremely large distances each year and regularly move between the surface and deep waters, a behavior that is simply not possible in an aquarium no matter how large the facility might be, the open letter stated. This highly migratory nature, combined with its low abundance, makes it particularly vulnerable to exploitation.

The authors of the open letter also expressed concern regarding the effect on the whale-shark population by removing a female from the sea where she could reproduce.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

EU fishery chief promises to save threatened sharks

No legal changes to be made until 2010? This is why we cannot depend on governments and organisations to initiate change. They talk and talk then take so long! We need to take it upon ourselves and just stop eating shark fin now.
EU fishery chief promises to save threatened sharks
Thu Feb 5, 2009 10:52am EST, Jeremy Smith,

BRUSSELS, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Europe's fisheries chief pledged on Thursday to tighten hunting controls for sharks, under threat from chronic overfishing and the practice of slicing high-value fins off one of the world's most vulnerable predators.

"Humans are now a far greater threat to sharks than they ever were to us," he told a news conference, adding that EU ministers would discuss the plan in April but no legal changes could probably be expected before 2010.

"Sharks and their close cousins, skates and rays, are more vulnerable to overfishing than other fish because their reproductive cycles are so long. Once stocks have collapsed it may take many decades for them to recover," he said.

Shark fertility rates are very low and they become sexually mature only late in life. The spurdog shark has a gestation period of two years.


Since the mid-1980s, shark numbers have come under increasing pressure from fishermen lured by soaring demand and high prices.

They are hunted mainly for their fins, to make shark fin soup, a traditional Asian dish: each fin can fetch up to 1,000 euros in Hong Kong, the world's main market for fins.

In 2003, the EU banned 'finning', where fins are cut off the living shark and the low-value carcass dumped at sea, though environment groups say the prohibition is not strict enough.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Atlantis hotel under fire over shark

How much does this sound like Resorts World at Sentosa!
Atlantis hotel under fire over shark
February 9, 2009 - 10:39AM, Brisbane Times

Environmentalists have renewed their call for a marine-themed luxury Dubai resort to release a whale shark on display inside the hotel's giant fish tank.

"The risk to the animal being held is greater than if the animal is released," Lisa Perry of the Emirates Wildlife Society/World Wild Fund told AP on Sunday. Releasing the 4 metre-long female whale shark back into the wild "is the right thing to do for Atlantis and for the animal", she said.

"Holding a whale shark in a constraining artificial environment where it is unable to feed ... and has a limited area to move can have fatal consequences," the activists wrote in a letter to the hotel's management. The letter was sent to the local media earlier this week.

"Taking a potential breeder ... from the wild, takes not only one whale shark from an already weakened whale shark population, but also the possible offspring she could produce," the letter said.

This is not the first environmental controversy that has plagued the Atlantis resort in Dubai. In 2007, activists protested the sale of dolphins from the Solomon Islands to Dubai. The mammals were transported 30 hours by plane from the South Pacific to a man-made lagoon, where hotel guests can swim with them.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Google Takes You Under the Sea

How cool is this! Download it and check it out man!

Google Earth has launched a new version and collaborated with ocean experts so we can explore the depths of the sea.

Take a tour of the ocean floor on the back of a white shark or a fin whale.
Google Ocean takes you on a 3D trip under the water by using data from tagged animals.

With ocean in Google Earth, you can:
  • Dive beneath the surface and visit the deepest part of the ocean, the Mariana Trench
  • Explore the ocean with top marine experts including National Geographic and BBC
  • Learn about ocean observations, climate change, and endangered species
  • Discover new places including surf, dive, and travel hot spots and shipwrecks

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sharks in a soup

Sharks in a soup
Shark populations plunge as a result of traditional Asian delicacy

Tuesday, February 03, 2009, Jamie Sturgeon and Justin Robertson, National Post

Sharks, an icon of the ocean for more than 400 million years, are everywhere in alarming retreat - by some estimates, down as much as 80% from only decades ago in certain regions. Millennia of evolutionary refinement may have produced the world's supreme predator, but it has not prepared the shark for the onslaught the species is now enduring.

Why? Soup.

The soup contains shards of the tasteless, and nutritionally worthless, shark fin and is usually flavoured with chicken stock.

The cost: $55. It is the price of prestige.

The growth of an Asian leisure class has put immense pressure on shark stocks that are already poorly understood and managed, says Dr. Dirk Zeller, a research fellow at the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre.

The explosion of new wealth has also given rise to a colossal black market.

"It's a huge grey figure" between the recorded catch and what goes unreported or illegally poached, Dr. Zeller says.

The estimated kill annually is now between 38 million and 100 million, he says, the most sought after being blue, hammerhead and shortfin sharks.