Friday, October 9, 2009

Top Ten Ways You Can Save Sharks

So you don’t eat shark fin soup or live in a country that considers it part of its culture? Doesn’t matter. You can still make a difference in the shark issue and save your share of the 100,000,000 killed a year.

Most likely, the sale of shark products is legal in your town, yes - your town. The local restaurants, grocery stores, health food stores, beauty salons and even pet stores may sell shark. Chances are also good your country is also responsible for the supply. Shocked? Believe it. The US, UK, France, Spain, and Portugal join Indonesia, Taiwan and Japan in the top 20 largest shark fishing nations.

Even if your country isn’t on the list, sharks and their habitats probably aren’t effectively protected – did you know Australia allows commercial shark fishing in the Great Barrier Reef – a World Heritage Site? And, no matter where you live, the myths about sharks as bloodthirsty man-eaters are being perpetuated – dangerous mis-truths standing in the way of their conservation. Think sharks are evil re-incarnated? Watch this video, then say that.

So, here are ten easy things you can do:

# 1) Do not consume or purchase shark - it’s dangerous.
It isn’t just the soup. Do not eat shark steaks or meat, don’t buy any shark or stingray leather products, leave the shark teeth and jaws in live sharks – where they belong.

This isn’t just for the sharks’ health – it’s for yours. Shark meat (including fins) carries warnings due to its high mercury levels from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the World Health Organization. If you want to know what mercury does, just google “mercury poisoning” and prepare to be horrified. Still want to eat it?

# 2) Volunteer your time.
Become a spokesperson or local organizer for our campaigns. Give a presentation at a school or event. (Its easy. Shark Angels or Shark Savers can provide them – or just grab this one off SlideShare.)

# 3) Be aware, informed consumers.
Know what you are buying. Often shark is relabeled as other types of fish, like rock salmon, included in fish patties like pollock, or hidden from consumers – as shark ingredients are not always labeled like chondroitin which can be made from shark cartilage.

# 4) Take your business elsewhere.
Do not support any restaurant or store that sells shark products or shark fin soup and inform them of your concerns. Educate them about why you are making this choice and ask them to make the same decision.

# 5) Support the cause.
Join and donate to shark conservation organizations. There are many ways to save sharks (science & research, direct action, legislation, grass roots activism.) Find an organization you identify with and don’t just join them – make a donation. They desperately need funding. A few of my favorites include: Shark Savers, Sea Shepherd, and WildAid – but chose the one right for you.

# 6) If you must eat it, only eat shark-friendly fish.
Since over ½ of the 100,000,000 sharks caught yearly are caught as by-catch, only eat sustainably caught seafood – or better, don’t eat anything from the seas.

If you do eat fish, download a sustainable seafood card and carry it with you. Most likely, one exists. You may even be able to download a cool iPhone App - like the one from Monterey Bay. You can even SMS a database of sustainable choices when out and about in South Africa, so I am quite certain no matter where you are, there are NO excuses not to make informed decisions.

# 7) Spread the enlightenment.
Increase your Shark IQ. Learn more then teach others. Host a local screening of Sharkwater then a have discussion afterwards. Shark Savers makes it easy to do from invitations to a discussion guide.

# 8) Keep sharks out of your cosmetics.
Never use any products (including makeup, lotions and deodorants) that contain Squalene - shark liver oil. In fact, just buy cruelty free.

# 9) Develop a voice.
Be heard. Blog, write articles, appeal to media outlets and help dispel the myths. Don’t support media outlets that demonize sharks. Sharks aren't evil re-incarnated. Watch this video.

# 10) Make your vote count.
Even if you aren’t living in country that is heavily consuming sharks, chances are, your country is part of the problem. The US and many countries in the EU are responsible for catching more sharks than most other countries in the world. Support legislation that stops shark fishing, protects shark habitats, and ends overfishing. It’s not just about the sharks – it’s about the oceans.

And, bonus points if you make sharks more valuable alive than dead and support responsible (strong emphasis here) shark diving tourism. But that is a blog for a different day.

You can and should make a difference before there aren’t sharks left. In fact a recent IUCN report has identified over 1/3 of all shark species (more than 400 in total) are facing extinction – some in our lifetimes. Destroying sharks and the oceans isn't a legacy I want to leave for future generations. You?


Lance said...

ARE PEOPLE CRAZY?! It certainly looks like it! Simple Logic: Get rid of the great white shark, the makos, and tiger sharks, and the population of common eatable fish will increase throughout the world, boistering the fishing industry and making fish cheaper, more plentiful and available to people.

Anyone trying to save sharks is a wannabe angel of death to humans. Don't fall for any of their bulljive. As the worlds population grows, the sharks must die! For example, an issue of Popular Science showed designs for giant indoor growing facilities that use condensed seawater for moisture and solar power. They can be built for about $5 a square foot and the desert can be farmed! Go underground in levels w/ high pressure lighting and space can be maximized. So why is it not being done? Ask yourself that question!

Do not fall for any tricks from so called "good guy" groups. A bunch of tricksters and slicksters that are up to no good and that's all folks. Duhhh.

No child on earth should starve to death! Also, fish needs to be a more important part of all diets w/ the obesity and health issues concerning people. Certain sharks and sharks in general EAT TOO MUCH SEA LIFE! KILL EM' ALL! Also, groups of dolphins should be trained to attack the great white shark and released back into the sea!

Do not fall for peoples' crap, they try to do evil without looking like it. Always watch out for their little "hidden agenda" which isn't that hard to figure out.

Anonymous said...

Lance, you are completely ridiculous! You have to be one of the most ignorant people. Every animal has its place on earth and a purpose. Its part of the oceans eco-system, as well as the circle of life. If we kill off all the sharks that eat Octopus then the ocean will be full of those and then what? Kill them too? and the Octopus eats Lobster so it will be full of those snappy creatures, then what? those too? Get Educated and think before you preach.

Cath said...

Sharks have been on Earth for the last 450 years. They were present before the dinosaurs and survived 5 major extinctions. They have a crucial role to play in the planet's ecosystem and eradicating them would be like committing suicide.
We humans have only existed for a fraction of that time. Yet, we managed to cause more destruction than any other only in the last 100 years. You think we have some kind of privilege, that we're undestructible? Wake up, man. Control is just an illusion! Without balance, nature will destroy us. Or should I say, we're destroying ourselves.

Kinsey said...

Lance, I know that it seems logical that without predators the fish population would grow, but in fact when an apex predator like the shark is taken out of it's ecosystem fish overpopulate. Why is overpopulation bad? When a species' population increases, disease spreads rapidly because there is a lack of biodiversity. If all the fish die of disease there will be non left for our industries. For example along the US East Coast where large sharks such as black tip and tiger sharks have been virtually elimated, there have been declines in shellfish numbers and a reduction in water quality (shellfish filter sea water). Populations of small sharks such as those that would have been eaten by larger ones, have increased rapidly, consuming shellfish at an unsustainable rate. If you remove apex predators from an ecosystem the result is the same as removing the foundations from a building – total collapse. I see you read Popular Science? Then how can you not understand basic ecology? Secondly you're argument for no child having to starve because these "sea water growing facilities" aren't being made is irrelevant beacuse those types of technologies would be invested in by first world countries, not by third world countries whose citizens really are starving. Finally, in all honesty, you nor I nor anyone else has the right to eliminate a creature that is far older than we can imagine. It demands our respect and our alligence not our hate. You think this world belongs to humans alone? That the world is simply here for our benefit? We are but a tiny speck in the vastness of time that olur planet has seen, and it will survive without us long after we have gone.