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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.

Marine Life & Conservation

Dive Guides invited to apply for the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship

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Reef-World’s campaign is helping dive guides in need receive Green Fins environmental certification

The Reef-World Foundation – international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative – is calling for dive guides to submit their application for the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship.

As a result of the Scholarship campaign, dive guides working around the world – including Brazil, the Philippines, Egypt, Colombia, South Africa, Indonesia and Turkey – have received their certificate proving their status as a Green Fins certified dive guide. Yet, thanks to funding from Reef-World’s partner Paralenz, 149 more scuba diving guides will be able to receive their Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course environmental certification.

Dive guides who meet the criteria (outlined below) can apply for the scholarship at any time through the Green Fins website. To be eligible for the scholarship, guides must:

  • have completed and passed all modules of the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course
  • be able to demonstrate they or their employer are not financially able to purchase the certificate
  • be a national of a country which receives official development assistance from the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The Scholarship was created in response to feedback from dive guides who had passed the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course and were keen to download and display their personalised electronic certificate but were not financially able to cover the associated cost (£19 / $25 USD). The personalised electronic certificate can be displayed to entice eco-minded guests by informing them the guide has received this vital environmental certification and is aware of how to reduce the negative environmental impacts associated with diving.

Diving related damage to sensitive marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, is becoming an increasingly significant issue. This damage makes them less likely to survive other local and wider stressors, such as overfishing or run-off from land containing pollutants and plastic debris as well as the effects of climate change, such as rising sea temperatures. The Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course, created with the support of Professional SCUBA Schools International (PSS) and running on their innovative EVO e-learning platform, teaches dive professionals how to prevent diving-related damage to coral reefs by following the highest environmental standards and better managing their guests to prevent damage to the reef.

Sam Craven, Programmes Manager at The Reef-World Foundation, said: “We’re proud to be offering dive guides around the world the opportunity to become Green Fins certified; no matter their background. Both the e-Course and the Scholarship have been a great success so far and we’re delighted to see so many dive professionals demonstrating their commitment to sustainable tourism by taking the course. We urge dive guides who haven’t yet taken the course to consider taking this step and welcome Scholarship applications from anyone who meets the criteria. Together, we can protect coral reefs through sustainable diving and we’d love as many dive guides as possible to join us.”


Dive guides who want to be considered for scholarship can visit www.greenfins.net/green-fins-dive-guide-scholarship-applications to apply.

To donate to the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship Fund, please visit www.greenfins.net/appeal/sponsor-a-dive-guide.

Supporters who are interested in helping additional dive guides receive their certifications can also donate to Sponsor a Dive Guide.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Go Fish Free this February

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There are no longer plenty more fish in the sea! Fish Free February challenges you to help protect our oceans by removing seafood from your diet for 28 days and helping to raise awareness of the issues caused by intensive fishing practices.

Our oceans are in a state of global crisis, brought about by ocean warming, acidification, pollution, and habitat destruction. However, the biggest immediate threat to ocean life is from fisheries. Each year an estimated 1-2.7 trillion fish are caught for human consumption, though this figure does not include illegal fisheries, discarded fish, fish caught to be used as bait, or fish killed by not caught, so the real number is far higher. It is no wonder then, that today nearly 90% of the world’s marine stocks are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted. If we do not act fast, overfishing and damaging fishing practices will soon destroy the ocean ecosystems which produce 80% of the oxygen in our atmosphere and provide three billion people with their primary source of protein.

Fish Free February, a UK-registered charity, is challenging people around the world to take action for marine life in a simple but effective way. Take the Fish Free February Pledge and drop seafood from your diet for one month, or beyond. Fish Free February wants to get people talking about the wide range of issues associated with industrial fishing practices and putting the well-being of our oceans at the forefront of dietary decision-making. A third of all wild-caught fish are used to create feed for livestock, so Fish Free February urges us to opt for plant-based dishes as a sustainable alternative to seafood, sharing our best fish-free recipes on social media with #FishFreeFebruary and nominating our friends to do the same.

“Not all fishing practices are bad” explains Simon Hilbourne, founder of Fish Free February. “Well-managed, small-scale fisheries that use selective fishing gears can be sustainable. However, most of the seafood in our diet comes from industrial fisheries which often prioritise profit over the well-being of our planet, resulting in multiple environmental challenges. In some cases, the fishing industry has even been linked to serious human rights issues such as forced labour and human trafficking! Fish Free February hopes to shed more light on fishing practices, create wider discussion around these issues, and offer solutions to benefit people, wildlife, and the natural environment.”

To learn more about these issues and to take the Fish Free February pledge visit www.fishfreefebruary.com

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Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk to book your spot!

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