Connect with us
background

Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Sharks… we need them

Published

on

Sharks have been dealt a poor hand. They are demonised by the media and film industry because that’s what sells papers and movies. It doesn’t help that most species aren’t particularly cute (case and point: the false catshark, Pseudotriakis microdon caught in Scottish waters in October 2015) so we can’t humanise them like we do with dolphins and other charming marine animals. However, sharks are absolutely vital for the health of our oceans, and in turn, the future of our planet.

Overfishing, finning, shark fishing tournaments, bycatch and longlining are all massively reducing our shark populations. Fishing practices like those encouraged by SSACN, pole and line fishing, should be the only methods used. Trawling is very destructive and unselective as the nets haul every life encountered. With longlining, boats spool out hundreds of feet of fishing line with up to 2,000 baited hooks spread along its length. With both these methods, a vast number of marine species, known as ‘bycatch’ are caught and thrown overboard dead or dying, including those listed as vulnerable, threatened or endangered. It was recently reported that thousands of spurdog are discarded into the sea dead annually in the UK. They get caught and crushed in the nets by trawlers pulling up massive catches from the depths. Bycatch amounts to up to 90% of a trawl’s haul and many of these are sharks due to their predatory nature. Global catches have increased by 300%, but much is unreported & unregulated so this figure is likely to be a lot higher. It would be great to see Scotland and the UK set an example with a drastic overhaul of fishing methods and quotas to ensure a sustainable future for UK seas.

Screenshot 2015-10-06 20 01 06-01_wm

Education among the angling community is also crucial and organisations like SSACN are not only valuable resources for information, but are proactive in encouraging best practices for sustainable fishing. With a recent report showing horrifying pictures of 40 dead cat sharks discarded on Chesil beach, by suspected anglers, angling conservation organisations need as much support as they can get to continue their positive messages to change these practices.

The most recent and accurate report states that up to 273 million sharks are killed each year. Sharks just cannot reproduce quickly enough to keep up with the demand and the only way to stop shark extinction is to stop the trades.

To envisage the vital role sharks play in our oceans, think about a fish tank and what needs to happen if one of the fish in that tank contracts a disease. You need to remove that fish from the tank before the disease spreads. Sharks prey on the diseased, the mutated, the injured and the weak, keeping the balance of our ocean’s ecosystem in check.

Sharks are at the top of the ocean food chain and their prey includes species that eat vegetation where the majority of the ocean’s carbon is stored, within seagrass, saltmarsh and mangrove. These blue carbon ecosystems, as they are called, capture and store carbon 40 times faster than rainforests and can store the carbon for thousands of years. Removing sharks from this ecosystem allows these vegetation eaters number’s to increase and results in a release of these ancient carbons and means that less carbon can be stored.

Screenshot 2015-10-06 19 39 12-01_wm

The oceans produce more oxygen than all the rainforests combined, provide a third of the world with food, remove half of the atmosphere’s greenhouse gases, and control our planet’s temperature and weather. Sharks and the oceans desperately need our help.

For individuals, other than ensuring best practice is used when fishing, there are easy ways to help save sharks:

  • Never buy make-up or health goods containing shark liver oil, known as squalene
  • Never buy products made of shagreen or shark leather
  • Never buy fresh shark teeth or jaws
  • Always ask what type of fish is being used for your fish and chips as restaurants / takeaways sometimes use shark a.k.a. rock salmon, rock eel, flake, huss or white fish
  • Never eat shark fin soup or support a restaurant that sells it

As a Scot living in South Africa working in shark conservation, I have a lot of work to do to change public misconception and fishing practices used here. I recently started a campaign called Keep Fin Alive featuring Fin, a hand-puppet shark on a mission to be photographed with as many people as possible holding a sign that says “I hugged a shark and I liked it… Keep Fin Alive”. He’s already been photographed with well-known actors, singers, chefs, photographers and scientists, including John Hannah, Adam Handling and Jamie Scott. The ultimate goal of the campaign is to take a light-hearted approach to help change the common misconception of sharks and drive more attention to the issues facing sharks.

Esther Jacobs Overbeeke

Shark Conservationist

Founder: Keep Fin Alive

www.facebook.com/keepfinalive
www.twitter.com/FinHugger

Esther Jacobs is a shark conservationist, originally from Scotland, now living in South Africa working with sharks and other marine life. Esther works with Oceans Research, a marine research facility in Mossel Bay, South Africa. She also runs a shark conservation campaign called Keep Fin Alive, which features a handpuppet shark called Fin, who is on a mission to be photographed with as many people as possible holding a sign that says “I hugged a shark and I liked it… Keep Fin Alive”. He’s already been photographed with lots of celebrities and scientists. The ultimate goal of the campaign is to take a light-hearted approach to help change the common misconception of sharks and drive more attention to the problems of shark overfishing, finning, shark fishing tournaments, bycatch and longlining.

Marine Life & Conservation

The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Dan Abbott of Save The Med Foundation

Published

on

Gemma and Ian chat to Dan Abbott.  Dan works at Save The Med Foundation.  He is incredibly passionate about marine conservation, underwater filmmaking, drones and helping people understand the world of sharks. It’s probably safe to say sharks are his main passion, and he has spent the last five years traveling around the world filming various species including great white sharks, bull sharks, tiger sharks and hammerhead sharks.

Have a listen here:

Find out more here:


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

Continue Reading

Marine Life & Conservation

The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Andy Forster of Dive Project Cornwall

Published

on

Gemma and Ian chat to Andy Forster.  Andy is the Project Director at Dive Project Cornwall.  He tells us about his own passion for diving as well as how Dive Project Cornwall is going to educate and inspire many youngsters over the coming year.

Have a listen here:

Find out more at www.diveprojectcornwall.co.uk


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

Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!

Competitions

Save up to 1/3 off a trip to Indonesia! Your chance to dive Bali, Komodo and Raja Ampat aboard the NEW luxury MY Emperor Harmoni for less! Launching in September 2022. Emperor Harmoni is Emperor Divers Indonesia’s brand new liveaboard. Built of Sulawesi Ironwood and offering a truly new experience to liveaboard holidays, experience a true sense of sailing the Indonesian seas in freedom, style, comfort and confidence with her two engines. Enjoy spacious diving and relaxation areas or relax with a massage on deck. Example price based on Bali departure to Komodo WAS £2900 / NOW from just £1995* per person based on sharing a twin luxury cabin including: 1 night in Bali before the boat departure with airport transfers One way flight from Labuan Bajo to Bali after the liveaboard with 20kgs baggage 7 nights onboard MY Emperor Harmoni with 3 meals a day, afternoon snacks, unlimited drinking water, tea & coffee All diving with guide, cylinders & weights, Marine Park & Port Fees Free Nitrox 1 cocktail party on a local island (weather allowing) Return airport transfers * Price excludes international flights, these can be quoted at the time of reservation Booking deadline: Subject to availability. Other Dates available - book before 30 September! Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk. More Less

Instagram Feed

Popular