Marine Life & Conservation
British Virgin Islands Declares Its Territorial Waters a Shark & Ray Sanctuary
The British Virgin Islands has declared its territorial waters a sanctuary for all shark species this week in an effort to protect the marine predators, whose global numbers have dwindled dramatically in recent times.
Kedrick Pickering, deputy premier and minister for natural resources, said the loss of sharks disrupts the predator-prey balance, compromising the health of oceans and reefs and the survival of other marine creatures.
“The best way to manage their populations is to let them fulfill their ecological role as apex predators,” Pickering said at a conference in Belgium.
The Cabinet of the British Caribbean archipelago of roughly 60 small islands, cays and islets banned commercial fishing of all shark species in the 30,933 square miles (80,117 square kilometers) of its exclusive economic zone.
Shark fishing has grown rapidly in recent decades, driven by rising demand, mainly in China, for shark fin soup. Because of their long life spans and low fertility rates, sharks are highly vulnerable to overfishing. Experts say roughly 100 million sharks are killed each year in commercial fisheries around the globe.
It’s not clear how stringently the tourism-dependent British territory will police its waters, which are home to coral reefs where divers can spot such shark species as scalloped hammerheads, oceanic whitetips and reef sharks.
The territory of approximately 25,000 people said that in addition to sharks it is also protecting rays, whose numbers have sharply dwindled over the years. Researchers with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature have said roughly one-quarter of the world’s sharks and rays are threatened with extinction.
The sanctuary announcement was applauded by the territory’s most famous resident, British tycoon and adventurer Richard Branson.
Branson, CEO and founder of the Virgin Group of companies, has been pushing Caribbean governments to better protect marine environments, making special mention of sharks and rays. At a conference Branson hosted on his private island last year, several regional governments committed to establishing shark protections by May 2015.
“The British Virgin Islands has shown leadership here and I urge other countries and territories in the region to follow suit to create a Caribbean-wide sanctuary to protect these magnificent animals,” Branson said in an email.
The territory joins Honduras and the Bahamas as the first governments in the Americas to declare shark sanctuaries, according to Pew Charitable Trusts, which has pushed shark conservation efforts around the world. The world’s first shark sanctuary was created in 2009 by the Pacific nation of Palau.
The Caribbean territory is “showing that small islands can have a big impact on global biodiversity,” Pew’s Angelo Villagomez said.
Marine Life & Conservation
PADI partners with global skincare brand Medik8
PADI®’s global non-profit the AWARE Foundation™ is teaming up with leading sustainability-focused skincare brand Medik8 to save our most critical ecosystem on the planet – the ocean.
As the new corporate sponsor of the PADI AWARE Foundation’s 2023 Community Grant Programme, Medik8 will be supporting four grassroots conservation projects that range from protecting megafauna like turtles and whales from entanglement to fuelling hands-on citizen science initiatives like seagrass restoration.
The PADI AWARE Community Grant Programme is designed to award ocean protection initiatives that are in direct support of the United Nations Decade of Science for Sustainable Development in five distinct categories: coral restoration, developing marine protected areas, eliminating marine debris, reducing the effects of climate change, and protecting species threatened with extinction like sharks and turtles. In 2022 PADI AWARE™ dedicated nearly one-quarter of its public funds to empower local communities to take action for our shared blue planet.
“Last year we launched the Grant Programme to directly support PADI Members and NGOs driving meaningful conservation projects, often who have little or no funding support,” says Danna Moore, PADI AWARE Foundation’s Global Director. “This year, due to the collaboration with Medik8, we can provide more resources directly to local communities that need them most. Medik8 is a like-minded organisation that shares our science-based, sustainability-driven, and community-oriented values – and will be a strong partner committed to helping us create positive ocean change.”
Medik8’s support of the PADI AWARE Community Grants programme is in line with their ethos of making a positive impact through driving sustainability strategies with everything they do – from reducing carbon impact and waste to investing in being an ethical business with direct social investments. Their connection and deep love for the ocean is rooted in Medik8’s founder Elliot Isaacs, who is a PADI Master Scuba Diver™.
“As a brand, we strongly believe that increased social investment will allow us to make a more significant mark on wider society,” says Alexandra Florea, Head of Sustainability at Medik8. “Working with grassroots organisations who understand exactly what is needed on the ground will mean we can generate the greatest impact. We chose PADI as our long-term charitable partner because, like us, they put science at the heart of everything they do to bring about positive results.”
The PADI AWARE Grantee projects Medik8 is sponsoring fuel the impact of local citizen science initiatives driving global change like Kosamare Seagrass Restoration in Greece, a grant recipient from 2022 and now 2023. The other three grantee projects have also been selected and range from marine debris removal to climate change mitigation – and are set to be announced in the coming months.
The PADI AWARE Community Grant programme is open to all PADI Dive Centres around the world, along with locally-based NGOs and charities working on marine conservation issues that operate on a budget below $1 Million USD.
“With incredible partners like Medik8 who are equally committed to creating positive ocean change, a swell of hope for our shared blue planet is becoming stronger with every project we support – further proving that the ripples from local action really do have a global impact for us all,” says Moore.
The next round of proposal submissions is on 4 April 2023, with more information at www.padi.com/aware/grant-funding-criteria.
Marine Life & Conservation
Win ‘Gold Rush’ Mako Shark Sculpture worth £7,000
One lucky person is set to win a stunning, life-sized mako shark sculpture worth more than £7,000 for just £5 thanks to a lottery initiative developed by the internationally acclaimed marine wildlife sculptor Scott Glee to support Bite-Back Shark & Marine Conservation.
Tickets to win ‘Gold Rush’, an electric blue 7-ft mako shark sculpture with a 24-carat gold leaf dorsal fin have just gone on sale at https://tinyurl.com/win-gold-rush, with all proceeds supporting the UK charity’s campaigns to make Britain shark fin free.
The high impact artwork has been created to raise awareness of the global and unsustainable marine ‘gold rush’ to hunt sharks for their valuable fins alone and to help fund Bite-Back’s campaigns to end the UK’s trade in shark products.
Individual lottery tickets to win the sculpture are being sold exclusively through the Bite-Back website for £5 each plus money saving ticket deals in groups of 5, 10, 15 and 25 units.
Crafted from fibreglass, the dramatic, one-off sculpture has been sealed in a weatherproof clear coat providing the winner with the option of displaying Gold Rush indoors and out.
Artist Scott Gleed said: “I can’t think of a better way to announce yourself as a shark fan than a 7-ft shark in your garden, house or workplace. Sharks have been in my blood for decades and this is an opportunity for me to express my love of sharks and my anger at their exploitation in one piece of art. On top of that it’s a huge pleasure to support the hardest working shark charity in the UK. I hope this unique piece goes to a great home and raises thousands of pounds for Bite-Back’s campaigns.”
Tickets will be on sale for just 10 weeks before the winning ticket is picked by the artist himself after the 12 May 2023 deadline.
Campaign director for Bite-Back, Graham Buckingham, said: “This is a breath-taking piece of art with an important story to tell. Fins are the most valuable part of a shark and, around the world, fishing fleets are in a race to hunt sharks and separate the fins from the body with no thought to the global catastrophe that could follow. We expect this artwork to help draw attention to the issue and contribute important funds for our campaigns to end the UK’s role in the shark fin trade. We’re full of gratitude to Scott for his vision, generosity, and contribution to our vital work.”
Visit https://tinyurl.com/win-gold-rush to buy your tickets now and visit www.gleed3d.com to learn more about Scott’s sculptures and the chance to commission your own marine masterpiece.
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