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Marine Life & Conservation

Indonesia’s First Shark Sanctuary

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Shark and Ray conservation is high on the agenda of many scientists and is a subject written about by even more conservationists. I am getting quite a few shark conservation blogs coming through now as more people are driven to write and share their experiences and feelings. All I can say is keep them coming. It shows we care.

We are finally getting into an era where people who are not directly involved with environmental or biological sciences are getting more conscious about our planet’s endangered natural sources. However, the knowledge that actually manages to get to our societies is limited and seems to be very focused on a couple of global ‘fashion’ issues like climate change, saving the dolphins, or transgenic corn.  Nothing against that, but there are so many scientific studies, so many other important topics, and so little that passes to our society that it almost seems like a waste. This narrowed-down flow of information also creates a phenomenon that is sort of known as ‘the science/society gap’ where much needed information gets lost. So now I’m writing about the science I’m involved with, not reinventing the wheel here, but instead aiming to ‘fill in some of the gap’ on the topics I love and study: marine conservation and sharks-&-rays .

Now, one of the biggest recent news for sharks & rays is the declaration of a shark sanctuary in Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia (http://blog.conservation.org/2013/02/raja-ampat-launches-indonesias-first-shark-sanctuary/). This is the first shark sanctuary in Indonesia and is a major achievement of the local Papuan communities, Indonesia’s government, and NGOs (Non-government organizations) working in this area. But to understand what the problem is with sharks & rays and why this sanctuary is such an achievement, I will start by explaining what the problem is.

black-tip-sharks

Black tip sharks are now protected in the Shark Sanctuary.

Besides being amazing creatures, sharks & rays are predators and have a very important role in keeping a balanced and healthy marine ecosystem. On the other hand, their populations support intensive fisheries and, therefore, human livelihoods all over the world. Sharks & rays occur in every ocean and in every ocean they are fished: from Mexico to Chile, from Japan to Australia, from UK to Cairo, from India to South Africa; everywhere. Generally, the meat is locally consumed, but the biggest trade and threat is their fins and/or gills which get exported to China to be used in traditional medicine and in traditional soup. Problem is, these animals grow very slow, they take a long time to be mature enough to reproduce, they have low numbers of pups, and they reproduce nowhere near as often as other fish that support similar intensity of fishery like tuna; their life characteristics are more similar of that of a whale or an elephant than that of a tuna or a sardine. The consequence of this is that sharks & rays cannot keep up with the intensive fishing they are subject of, nor do they have much chance to recover after been overfished.

The brighter side is that the importance of sharks & rays has been recognized in science for a while now, and it’s finally getting recognized too by the general public and government policy as noted with the recent addition of some species of sharks to the CITES list. Many countries, particularly those we called ‘developed nations’, have invested efforts in managing and conserving their populations of sharks and rays. However, many other nations are big consumers of this resource and have much less capacity for management or alternative of food sources.

Indonesia is one of the nations with the highest diversity of marine life but, sadly, it also has the largest fishery of sharks & rays in the world.

In a remote corner of Eastern Indonesia, although in the centre of the Coral Triangle (http://worldwildlife.org/places/coral-triangle), the government of a beautiful archipelago called Raja Ampat has managed to declare their waters a sanctuary where no extraction of sharks & rays should happen from now on. The local communities do not depend on this resource but are rather interested in looking after what is traditionally considered their water territories. Foreign fisheries are responsible for the shark & ray fishing in this area and they do this illegally. Moreover, the diving and marine eco-tourism industry at Raja Ampat is growing, providing an opportunity for an ‘environmentally conscious’ tourism that can appreciate this magnificent creatures alive rather than dead. The potential for sharks & rays to provide better incomes and livelihoods through tourism in this area is huge. So, I honestly think this is a great achievement and I may even venture to say that Indonesia is now one of the leaders in sharks and rays conservation!

manta-rays

Manta rays are also protected in the Shark Sanctuary.

However, it’s quite not the end but rather the start of sharks & rays conservation in this area. It was a long way and significant hard work was invested by many people to get this sanctuary finally declared, but there is still more work to do to implement it and monitor its success. Education, implementation, and monitoring of sharks & rays populations should now be the next steps to make this spot a real sanctuary where these amazing animals don’t go extinct and yet aid in the economic sustainability of the local communities.

So now I wonder, who’d be next nation lining up for sharks & rays protection?

Marine Life & Conservation

The IMPERFECT Conservationist, Episode #3: Your Car But Less Impact – In 10 Seconds! (*and you DON’T have to ride your bike everywhere!) (Watch Video)

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In this video you will learn how to have less impact with your car with this 10 second swap. If buying a new electric car or riding your bike everywhere isn’t a sustainable option for you – do this easy – money saving – and impactful swap instead! This is “The IMPERFECT Conservationist”, Episode #3!

In each video you will get your dose of “Conservation Empowerment” with a bite-sized way you can easily infuse conservation into YOUR busy day-to-day life. We can’t do it all, or do it perfectly but when it comes to being part of the solution, we can always do something! You’ve totally got this ; ) Be inspired, inspire others, do something good. Don’t forget to hit that subscribe button, and the bell so you know when my new videos post! More on my website and social channels too.

Subscribe HERE for weekly episodes of The Imperfect Conservationist!


Find out more at www.mehganheaneygrier.com

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Marine Life & Conservation

Surfers Against Sewage launch ‘Million Mile Beach Clean’ – the UK’s biggest ever beach clean

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UK charity Surfers Against Sewage marked the launch of their ‘Million Mile Beach Clean’ with a 50-metre sand drawing of a seal surrounded by plastic on Cayton Bay in Yorkshire.

The striking image highlights the impacts of plastic pollution on marine wildlife, which the charity aims to tackle this year by inspiring 100,000 people to clean up their local beach, river, street or green space. The result will be one million miles cleared by the end of the year, protecting oceans, beaches and wildlife – and giving Brits a much-needed boost as we emerge from lockdown.

‘The Million Mile Beach Clean’ is part of a new environmental initiative, the Million Mile Clean, encouraging people to get out locally, on streets, country lanes, in parks and along local waterways to tackle plastic pollution and litter. The campaign aims to reconnect people with their local environment to help their physical and mental well-being. The lead partner for the campaign over the next three years is the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation (IFCF), building on its previous support for nationwide beach cleans.

Whilst the initiative will run throughout 2021, the first week of action will take place between the 15th and 23rd of May. Surfers Against Sewage are calling for Clean Leaders across the UK to join the biggest beach clean ever and register to lead a clean during this period.

According to new research commissioned by Surfers Against Sewage, over half of Brits (54%) think COVID-19 has led to an increase in plastic pollution, with almost two-thirds (59%) seeing more waste in their area over the last 12 months. This increase could be down to the fact that a fifth (18%) of the population has bought more single-use plastic items as a result of the pandemic, with the same proportion opting to use disposable facemasks, rather than reusable ones.

The majority of people (74%) spot over 10 pieces of plastic or litter on an average walk. When extrapolated against the UK population, this could account for nearly 500 million pieces of litter and plastic pollution. Worryingly, 51% even say they see more plastic on UK beaches than wildlife, and 41% believe that UK beaches are more polluted than our European counterparts.

Hugo Tagholm, Chief Executive of Surfers Against Sewage, commented: “The ocean is under threat and we are running out of time to save it. We want to inspire an army of ocean activists to join the cause and put an end to plastic pollution in the UK. After more than a year of isolation, social distancing and reduced physical activity, the Million Mile Beach Clean reconnects communities with the environment and provides numerous benefits to mental health and physical well-being. Sign up and get involved today and together we can make a difference.”

‘The Million Mile Beach Clean’, created in direct response to the pandemic, will reconnect people with the ocean and their natural surroundings, whilst also restoring well-being as the UK emerges from winter and the pandemic. This will come as a relief to the 41% of Brits that feel their mental health has deteriorated as a result of lockdown, with half (52%) of the UK population claiming that being near water improves their well-being and mental health.

(c) Ian Lean

Dr Sabine Pahl, social psychologist at the University of Plymouth, stated:Our oceans are an integral part of our planet and our lives. Research shows that the coast and oceans have a positive impact on our health and well-being. Now more than ever it is crucial for people to reconnect with the outdoors and the Million Mile Beach Clean provides an opportunity for people to do something for their health whilst also creating a positive impact on the environment.”

Several notable organisations and individuals are supporting the campaign including the Outdoor Swimming Society, ex-professional surfer and mental health advocate Laura Crane, diver and biologist Gillian Burke and wildlife presenter Lizzie Daly.

Richard Walker, IFCF Trustee and Managing Director of Iceland Foods, added: “As a surfer, beach user and business leader, I believe it is imperative that we protect and restore our oceans as they are essential for all life on earth. The Million Mile Beach Clean is an opportunity to make a positive impact in reducing the impact of plastic pollution across the UK. I can’t wait to be a part of the biggest community clean up ever.”

Surfers Against Sewage are calling for people across the UK to join the campaign and commit to cleaning up their local beach or neighbourhood. To get involved visit their website here and track your beach cleans via their Strava Club community group. The initiative will last throughout the UN Decade of Ocean Science, delivering a million miles a year, ten million by 2030 and aligning with SAS’s ten-year ambition of ending plastic pollution on UK beaches by 2030.

Gillian Burke, wildlife presenter and biologist, said: “Making the connection between mental health and environment is key in mobilising communities in the right way and the Million Mile Beach Clean does just that. 100,000 volunteers, each cleaning their local beach or river or street or mountain – the impact speaks for itself. It’s ambitious, it’s physical, I’m in!”

For more information about Surfers Against Sewage visit their website by clicking here.

 

 

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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