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Marine Life & Conservation

Hilton Worldwide leads way in biggest ever voluntary underwater clean up to mark Earth Day 2014

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Teams of enthusiastic divers from across the UAE joined forces with Hilton Worldwide in Ras Al Khaimah this weekend for their second annual underwater clean-up drive as part of a worldwide event organised by Project AWARE to help protect the marine environment.

Over 50 divers from around the country geared up in wetsuits, dive equipment and tanks, trash bags and gloves to join the biggest volunteer programme of underwater clean-up in the country to help rid the sea off the Ras Al Khaimah coastline of debris and trash. Working in pairs, the dedicated teams recovered over 200kg of trash in just one hour. The haul contained a range of discarded items including plastic bottles and bags, ropes, nets, and other forms of debris. Meanwhile, non-diver volunteers assisted on land to receive the team after their clean up and to assist in discarding the collected rubbish.

Mohab Ghali, country manager, Ras Al Khaimah, Hilton Worldwide said: “This year’s underwater clean-up is one of the most high profile exercises in promoting sustainability ever seen in Ras Al Khaimah. The dedicated team of divers have a passionate interest in protecting their marine surroundings and I am delighted they have made such an impact in their second major initiative.”

Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa sponsored and hosted the event with over 80 divers and volunteers together, ranging from beginners to instructors and spanning 20 different countries.

After the morning’s clean-up, tired and hungry volunteers enjoyed a peaceful afternoon in the sunshine on the beach of the Hilton Resort & Spa where they enjoyed complimentary lunch and refreshments. A whole host of supporters donated various raffle prizes including hotel stays from all over UAE, Salalah in Oman and even the Seychelles, dining vouchers, spa, seaplane, cruises and more. Adventure Sports Centre, main partner of the event, provided the diving equipment, boats and, importantly their invaluable experience throughout the process ensuring proper set-up, organisation from boats to equipment, manpower and more.

Project AWARE is now in its second decade of underwater conservation and supports an unprecedented global movement of divers acting in their own communities to protect oceans and helping to implement lasting change. The committee members have now created Ras Al Khaimah Coastal Council to focus on the beautiful 65KM coastline in the Emirate, enjoyed every year by thousands of visitors to Ras Al Khaimah.

Emille Artigas, founder of the project, commented, “Our message and passions are clear, and our sole purpose is to make a difference. We want to protect the fragile marine environment, share the importance of reef ecosystems and contribute to the longevity of this beautiful underwater kingdom. It’s amazing to see that many share our passion, and finally, I applaud every member of the committee, who dedicated their time and enthusiasm to this worthwhile cause.”

The newly formed Ras Al Khaimah Coastal Council have lined up a series of conservation led initiatives for this year and will be calling on additional helpers to lend a caring hand throughout 2014 and 2015 to join in the building and funding of an artificial reef and also to protect baby turtles at hatching time.

Marine Life & Conservation

The Big Shark Pledge: Shark Trust’s new campaign kicks off with a call for support

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With the ink still drying on last week’s landmark listing of nearly 100 species of sharks on Appendix II of CITES, the Shark Trust insists that this is not the time for shark conservation to take a break. The UK-based NGO this week launches its biggest-ever concerted campaign to tackle the overfishing of oceanic sharks. They are calling on people across the world to join the call for stricter controls on high seas fisheries.

The Big Shark Pledge is at the heart of an ambitious set of campaign actions. Working to secure science-based catch limits on all sharks and rays affected by the international high seas fishing fleet. The pledge will build the largest campaigning community in shark and ray conservation history to support a raft of policy actions over the vital years ahead.

Many of our best known and much-loved sharks make their home on the high seas. In our shared ocean, these oceanic sharks and rays face a very real threat from a huge international fleet of industrial-scale fishing vessels. Research published in early 2021 confirmed that over three-quarters of oceanic sharks and rays are now at risk of extinction due to the destructive impact of overfishing. They have declined by 71% over the last 50 years.

The Shark Trust is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year and has a long history of securing positive changes for sharks, skates and rays. The Big Shark Pledge will build on the success of their NoLimits? campaign which underpinned landmark catch limits on Blue Sharks and Shortfin Mako in the North Atlantic.

While the listing of so many species on the CITES trade agreement is certainly a positive step, there remains a huge challenge in ensuring that sustainable practices are embedded in international fisheries.” says Shark Trust Director of conservation, Ali Hood. “Sharks on the high seas face extraordinary pressure from excessive fishing practices. This has to be addressed through international agreements such as those secured for Blues and makos.”

There is hope and a feeling of momentum in the shark conservation community. Just last week, in addition to the new CITES listings, the Shark Trust, working with partners in the Shark League, secured the first-ever international quota for South Atlantic Mako at ICCAT meeting in Portugal. The new campaign from the Shark Trust aims to push forwards from here, engaging a wave of support through the Big Shark Pledge to bolster policy action.

This will be a long-term international and collaborative effort. Forging a pathway to rebuild populations of high-seas sharks and rays. By putting science at the heart of shark conservation and fisheries management. And making the vital changes needed to set populations on the road to recovery.

Shark Trust CEO Paul Cox says of the Big Shark Pledge “It’s designed to give everyone who cares about the future of sharks the chance to add their voice to effective and proven conservation action. By adding their name to the Pledge, supporters will be given opportunities to apply pressure at key moments to influence change.

Click here to sign the Big Shark Pledge

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Gear News

Fourth Element X Sea Shepherd

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This year on Black Friday, fourth element announced their new partnership with Sea Shepherd, encouraging people to move away from mindless purchasing and to opt-in to supporting something powerful.

For 40 years Sea Shepherd, a leading non-profit organisation, has been patrolling the high seas with the sole mission to protect and conserve the world’s oceans and marine wildlife. They work to defend all marine wildlife, from whales and dolphins, to sharks and rays, to fish and krill, without exception.

Inspired by Sea Shepherd’s mission, fourth element have created a collection of fourth element X Sea Shepherd limited edition products for ocean lovers and protectors, with 15% of every sale going to the Sea Shepherd fund to help continue to drive conservation efforts globally.

“Working with Sea Shepherd gives fourth element the opportunity to join forces with one of the largest active conservation organisations in the world to try to catalyse change in people’s attitudes and behaviour. Fourth Element’s products are designed, developed and packaged with the intention of minimising our impact on the ocean environment, and with this partnership, we will be supporting the work of Sea Shepherd, in particular in their work on dealing with the twin threats of Ghost fishing nets and plastic pollution.”

Jim Standing fourth element co-founder

Read fourth element’s Sea Shepherd Opinion Piece HERE

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