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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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Jeff chats to… Underwater Photographer Ellen Cuylaerts (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Ellen Cuylaerts about her diving and underwater photographic career.

As an underwater and wildlife photographer, Fellow of The Explorers Club and having a front seat in exploration being part of the Flag and Honours Committee, Ellen is also a Member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame. She travels the world and tries to make the most of every destination and the path that leads her there. Ellen acts as an ocean citizen and believes as divers we should all be ocean ambassadors and lead by example. She is now based in the UK after many years in Grand Cayman.

Find out more about Ellen and her work at www.ellencuylaerts.com


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Huge thresher shark is the latest of six murals to be painted around the Solent this summer

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The murals celebrate the Solent’s extraordinary marine life – marking National Marine Week.

Secrets of the Solent have commissioned street artist ATM to paint a series of marine-themed artworks at various locations around the Solent this summer. The latest mural to be finished shows a thresher shark on the Langstone Harbour Office. Langstone Harbour is an important area for wildlife as well as a bustling seaside destination for sailing and water sports.

Artist ATM, who is painting all six murals, is well-known for his iconic wildlife street art. This, his second artwork of the series, took three days to paint freehand, from a scaffolding platform. The thresher shark was chosen out of six marine species to be the subject of the artwork by the local community, who were asked to vote via an online form or in person on the Hayling Ferry.

Secrets of the Solent hope the mural will become a landmark in Langstone Harbour and inspire visitors to learn more about this enigmatic oceanic shark. The project, which is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, works to celebrate and raise awareness of Solent’s diverse marine environment.

Aiming to highlight the exotic and unusual creatures found close to our coasts, artist ATM says: “I really enjoyed painting the thresher shark because it’s such an amazing looking animal, with a tail as long as its body. I hope when people see the murals, they will become more aware of what lives under the waves and the importance of protecting the vital habitats within the Solent.”

Dr Tim Ferrero, Senior Marine Biologist at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust says: “The thresher shark is a wonderful animal that visits our waters every summer. It comes to an area to the east of the Isle of Wight, and this appears to be where the sharks breed and have their young. Not many people know that we have thresher sharks in our region, and so having our mural here on the side of the Langstone Harbour Office building is a fantastic way of raising awareness of this mysterious ocean wanderer. I really hope that people will come away with the knowledge that the Solent, our harbours and our seas are incredibly important for wildlife.”

Rachel Bryan, Project Manager for Secrets of the Solent at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust comments: “We are really excited to have street artist ATM painting a thresher shark on the side of the Langstone Harbour Office building. We chose this building because of its prominent location right on the entrance to Langstone Harbour so that anyone who’s visiting, whether that’s walkers, cyclists or people coming in and out of the harbour on their jet-skis or sailing boats, will all be able to see our thresher shark. People on the Portsmouth side of the harbour will also be able to see the mural from across the water.”

The thresher shark is a mysterious predator which spends most of its time in oceanic waters. It uses its huge whip-like tail as an incredibly effective tool for hunting its prey. Herding small fish into tight shoals, the shark will lash at them with its tail, stunning several in one hit and making them easier to catch.

Secrets of the Solent hope to work with the species this summer to discover more about its behaviour.

Dr Tim Ferrero explains: “Nobody really knows where thresher sharks go in the ocean. Later this summer we are hoping that we are going to be able to attach a satellite tag to a thresher shark and monitor its progress for an entire year. This will provide really important information that will help us learn so much more about the shark’s annual life cycle.”

The new thresher shark mural is a fantastic start to National Marine Week (24th July – 8th August), which celebrates the unique marine wildlife and habitats we have here in the UK. Over the two weeks, Wildlife Trusts around the country will be running a series of exciting events to celebrate the marine environment. We really hope people will be inspired by our murals and want to learn more about each chosen species.

Events in the Solent include the launch of a new Solent marine film on the 29th July, installation of a new Seabin on the 4th August to reduce marine litter, and citizen science surveys throughout summer.

For more information click here.

Header image: Bret Charman

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