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Project AWARE reports on the United Nations Wildlife Treaty Outcomes for Sharks and Rays

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Over 90 governments attending the 12th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention of the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS CoP12) in Manila, Philippines from 23 to 28 October, have collectively endorsed actions on the conservation of migratory species including sharks and rays.

CMS CoP12 saw many notable outcomes for migratory species including all fish proposals, submitted by the governments of Honduras, Israel, Mauritania, Monaco, the Philippines, Samoa, Senegal, Sri Lanka, and Togo, being endorsed. The iconic whale shark was up-listed to Appendix I. The proposal to list the angelshark on both Appendices I and II was adopted. And the dusky shark, blue shark, the common guitarfish, and the white-spotted wedgefish proposals were also adopted for listing under Appendix II.

While listing additional shark and ray species on CMS Appendices is a step in the right direction, many countries are yet to transpose the CMS agreements into their national, enforceable legislation. Without such action, the CMS species listings are toothless. So the Convention’s new compliance review mechanism and commitments by countries to step up their efforts to conserve migratory species are welcome.

As cooperating partner to the CMS MoU, Project AWARE joined two NGO statements to applaud the listings but also to express our concerns about the lack of concrete action taken to date for listed species such as the mako sharks listed in 2018. The statements underscored that the success of CMS listings for heavily fished shark species depends primarily on follow-up fisheries management actions. Throughout the CoP, CMS Parties that are also members of ICCAT were encouraged to propose and promote the mako protection measures advised by ICCAT scientists, in line with the 2008 CMS listing for the species. Project AWARE was also thrilled to join a Shark Advocates International Side Event: Making CMS Work for Sharks and Rays – Spotlight on Makos, as co-presenter and Shark League partner, to share their #Divers4Makos perspective and encourage positive actions at the Regional Fishery Management Organizations fora, consistent with the CMS obligations.

Under the theme “Their Future is Our Future – Sustainable Development for Wildlife and People”, the conference helped highlight that humans and wildlife are inseparably dependent on each other and acknowledge the indispensable contributions of wild animals to sustainable development and the many socio economic benefits people derive from them. The CoP emphasized the importance of the opportunities that can be created through sustainable wildlife watching and ecotourism for livelihood support, national economies and community well-being. Project AWARE highlighted how following sustainable shark and ray tourism best practices can help build a better future for sharks and rays as well as local communities.

During the CoP, governments also agreed to cooperate on reducing the negative impacts of marine debris on migratory species. The “From a Plastic Legacy to Healthy Living Oceans” side event highlighted the efforts of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative – an alliance of organizations including Project AWARE working to ensure safer, cleaner oceans by driving economically viable and sustainable solutions to the problem of ghost fishing gear globally. Project AWARE also joined Antoinette Taus, UN Goodwill Ambassador and founder of CORA, in encouraging efforts to reduce single use plastic.

CMS CoP12 is over. Project AWARE continue, however, together with our Shark League partners, to press for implementation. Concerted action is critically needed for all listed sharks and rays, most urgently makos! Stay tuned and join #Divers4Makos in urging ICCAT member countries to end uncontrolled mako shark fishing.

Find out more about the work of Project AWARE at www.projectaware.org.

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PADI meets with Maldivian Ministry to confirm protection of sharks

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Over recent weeks, there has been speculation about the possibility of the Maldivian government lifting the ban on shark fishing in the country’s waters. PADI®, and the dive industry at large, were instrumental in establishing these protections over a decade ago.

With concern for the continued protection of sharks in the Maldives, the PADI organisation and Project AWARE®, along with 200 concerned local and international stakeholders opposing the lifting of the shark fishing ban, called on the government to continue to enforce the legal protections of sharks. PADI staff met with Maldivian Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources, and Agriculture Zaha Waheed to reinforce the position of the dive community and critical role sharks play in dive tourism.

In those meetings, Minister Waheed assured PADI that the Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources, and Agriculture has no intentions to lift the ban on shark fishing. She affirmed that they remain committed to sustainable and responsible management of fisheries and marine resources in the Maldives. On 20 April 2021, the Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources, and Agriculture released a statement asserting that “the Maldives does not intend to permit a targeted shark fishery in the Maldives.”

“Sharks are a dominant force in dive tourism in the Maldives. We congratulate the Maldives’s commitment to their ongoing protection,” says Drew Richardson, President and CEO of PADI Worldwide. “The Maldives continues to lead by example, among the most progressive countries on this critical issue.”

There are currently 17 shark sanctuaries in the world; the first established in Palau in 2009 and others in popular dive destinations including French Polynesia, Honduras, The Bahamas and several others in the Caribbean. The Maldives shark sanctuary was established in 2010 and covers 916,000 km2 (353,000 square miles).

Tourism accounts for an estimated 25 percent of Maldives’ GDP (according to 2014 figures), with diving and snorkeling being the most popular tourism activity. Prior to the formation of the Maldivian sanctuary, shark fishing was worth US$0.7 million to the Maldives’ economy, compared to US$2.3 million from shark tourism. In 2018, the shark sanctuary increased dive-trip demand in the Maldives by 15 percent, raising an additional US$6 million. Consumer research indicates that any re-opening of a Maldives shark fishery could potentially decrease dive tourism demand by over 50 percent, which could result in a loss of US$24 million.

Sharks are some of the most endangered species in the ocean, with recent research showing that the global number of oceanic sharks has declined by 71 percent. Over a third of shark and ray species are threatened, facing an increased threat of extinction, primarily due to overfishing.  There are an estimated 600,000 shark watchers globally spending $314 million per year and directly supporting 10,000 jobs. Research indicates these figures are expected to rise as global tourism returns to pre-pandemic levels.

As part of its commitment to ocean conservation, PADI will continue to stand up for sharks and advocate for their protection. For more information on responsible shark tourism, read Project AWARE’s Guide to Best Practices. To learn more about PADI’s efforts and how you can join the community of PADI Torchbearers working to save the ocean, visit padi.com/conservation.

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Miscellaneous Blogs

The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Rosemary Lunn

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Ian and Gemma chat among themselves and are also are joined by well-known Dive Industry Professional Rosemary Lunn.

We talk about dive fitness and entering the CrossFit 2021 open games and being members of our local CrossFit Box. You can also listen to our new member of the team – Rosemary Lunn – answer some scuba diving questions.

Find out more about Rosemary at www.tumc.co.uk.


Find more podcast episodes and information at the new www.thebigscuba.com  website and on most social platforms @thebigscuba 

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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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