sharkfree Shark Free Marinas “We are not asking fishermen to stop fishing, only asking them to start releasing their catch,” says marine scientist Edd Brooks.

Brooks is a scientific advisor for the not-for-profit Company Shark-Free Marina Initiative, SFMI, who has just instigated a new strategy for preventing the deaths of millions of sharks belonging to vulnerable or endangered species.

The Shark-Free Marina Initiative works by prohibiting the landing of any caught shark at a participating marina. The initiative is based on the Atlantic billfish model which banned the mortal take of billfish in the 1980’s to give severely depleted populations a chance to recover.

By promoting catch-and-release and working closely with marinas and game fishing societies, SFMI hopes to win over the fishing community. Other important allies in the endeavour are competition sponsors and tackle producers.

Collaborating with the Fisheries Conservation Foundation in the USA and the Cape Eleuthera Institute in the Bahamas, SFMI has already gained the attention of marinas and non-profits nation-wide.

Enlisting the aid of anglers
By practising catch-and-release, sport fishers can not only decrease their impact on shark species; they can also actively aid ongoing research studies by collecting valuable data.

“Although the number of sharks killed by recreational fishermen each year is dwarfed by commercial catches, the current crisis facing shark stocks requires action wherever possible.” says Brooks.

During the last five years, the average number of sharks harvested annually by sport- and recreational anglers in the United States exceeded half a million. The outlook for these shark populations seem even graver when you take into account that many of the sharks targeted by fishermen are large, breeding age specimens belonging to endangered or vulnerable species. Removing so many sexually mature specimens from a population each year naturally has a major impact on its chances of long-term survival.

“Shark-Free Marinas is a necessary response to the culture of mature shark harvest” says SFMI’s Board Director, Marine Biologist Luke Tipple “Our effect will be immediate, measurable and, together with saving millions of sharks, will establish a new global standard for responsible ocean management. There’s a lot of talk about the atrocity of shark fining and fishing worldwide, but not a lot of measurable action towards reversing the damage. The time has come to stop simply ‘raising awareness’ and start implementing sensible management techniques to protect vulnerable species of sharks from inevitable destruction.”

You can find more information at www.sharkfreemarinas.com.
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