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Marine Life & Conservation

Why is it important that we save what remains of our reefs, fish and marine ecosystem?

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I think the basic answer is that it isn’t, unless of course we care to.

We are now beginning, as a species, to generally appreciate, if not understand, how the natural world actually works. How these systems and all their component parts play a vital role in the stability and health of the world in which we live.

We do of course try to distance ourselves from nature by building and living in completely artificial surroundings. We grow food artificially, we drastically reduce the immediate effects of weather and we regulate temperature and humidity in our technological existences. However, the luxury of this ability is not given to all mankind, only the ruling classes, the rich and well off. It is certainly not afforded to wildlife of any kind.

We know that with our technology we can do wonderful things, but unless it is afforded to all, then ultimately there will be wars and conflict as natural resources are eaten up by those who are generally far removed from them.

We can continue to eradicate species and habitats across the globe in the name of progress and fiscal gain, and as far as I am concerned there is no one looking down upon us from afar to judge our actions. We do all this on our own. I do not believe we will be either rewarded or punished in an afterlife. But, those generations who follow us will have to bear the consequences of our greed.

The oceans contribute greatly to our weather, they help generate the oxygen we breathe and deal most effectively with the carbon dioxide we generate as a bi-product of simply living. But the oceans are not a mechanical disposal system or gifted with endless supplies of food for our tastes. The oceans are a living breathing entity. A delicate and complex giant organism with countless parts that are all intertwined in their contribution to the diversity, which we know, is so crucial to the continued well being and evolution of any ecosystem.

As a species we are quite incredible and as far as we know quite unique within our universe. We are clever; we are compassionate, strong and successful. Yet we blunder into strife and poverty by choosing to drastically alter the very nature of the world that made us what we are. The future of the world is literally in our hands, and it falls down precisely to what we choose to do with it.

As a species that has the ability to reason beyond our own immediate circumstances, surely we must choose a world to live in that celebrates all the incredible wonders that have been created here since the planet was first in its cosmic infancy. The simple wonder of seeing a whale breech, a shoal of fish searing through the water in silvery unison, the glorious colours of coral, the magnificence and the shear scale of plants and animals that make our seas. Why would we want to live without all this? Why would we deny our children the opportunity to witness and be part of this great and wonderful planet? Are we so really self indulgent to be satisfied with saying to the younger generation. “Oh, you should have seen it in my day………”

Jeff is a multiple award winning, freelance TV cameraman/film maker and author. Having made both terrestrial and marine films, it is the world's oceans and their conservation that hold his passion with over 10.000 dives in his career. Having filmed for international television companies around the world and author of two books on underwater filming, Jeff is Author/Programme Specialist for the 'Underwater Action Camera' course for the RAID training agency. Jeff has experienced the rapid advances in technology for diving as well as camera equipment and has also experienced much of our planet’s marine life, witnessing, first hand, many of the changes that have occurred to the wildlife and environment during that time. Jeff runs bespoke underwater video and editing workshops for the complete beginner up to the budding professional.

Marine Life & Conservation

The Big Shark Pledge: Shark Trust’s new campaign kicks off with a call for support

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With the ink still drying on last week’s landmark listing of nearly 100 species of sharks on Appendix II of CITES, the Shark Trust insists that this is not the time for shark conservation to take a break. The UK-based NGO this week launches its biggest-ever concerted campaign to tackle the overfishing of oceanic sharks. They are calling on people across the world to join the call for stricter controls on high seas fisheries.

The Big Shark Pledge is at the heart of an ambitious set of campaign actions. Working to secure science-based catch limits on all sharks and rays affected by the international high seas fishing fleet. The pledge will build the largest campaigning community in shark and ray conservation history to support a raft of policy actions over the vital years ahead.

Many of our best known and much-loved sharks make their home on the high seas. In our shared ocean, these oceanic sharks and rays face a very real threat from a huge international fleet of industrial-scale fishing vessels. Research published in early 2021 confirmed that over three-quarters of oceanic sharks and rays are now at risk of extinction due to the destructive impact of overfishing. They have declined by 71% over the last 50 years.

The Shark Trust is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year and has a long history of securing positive changes for sharks, skates and rays. The Big Shark Pledge will build on the success of their NoLimits? campaign which underpinned landmark catch limits on Blue Sharks and Shortfin Mako in the North Atlantic.

While the listing of so many species on the CITES trade agreement is certainly a positive step, there remains a huge challenge in ensuring that sustainable practices are embedded in international fisheries.” says Shark Trust Director of conservation, Ali Hood. “Sharks on the high seas face extraordinary pressure from excessive fishing practices. This has to be addressed through international agreements such as those secured for Blues and makos.”

There is hope and a feeling of momentum in the shark conservation community. Just last week, in addition to the new CITES listings, the Shark Trust, working with partners in the Shark League, secured the first-ever international quota for South Atlantic Mako at ICCAT meeting in Portugal. The new campaign from the Shark Trust aims to push forwards from here, engaging a wave of support through the Big Shark Pledge to bolster policy action.

This will be a long-term international and collaborative effort. Forging a pathway to rebuild populations of high-seas sharks and rays. By putting science at the heart of shark conservation and fisheries management. And making the vital changes needed to set populations on the road to recovery.

Shark Trust CEO Paul Cox says of the Big Shark Pledge “It’s designed to give everyone who cares about the future of sharks the chance to add their voice to effective and proven conservation action. By adding their name to the Pledge, supporters will be given opportunities to apply pressure at key moments to influence change.

Click here to sign the Big Shark Pledge

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Gear News

Fourth Element X Sea Shepherd

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This year on Black Friday, fourth element announced their new partnership with Sea Shepherd, encouraging people to move away from mindless purchasing and to opt-in to supporting something powerful.

For 40 years Sea Shepherd, a leading non-profit organisation, has been patrolling the high seas with the sole mission to protect and conserve the world’s oceans and marine wildlife. They work to defend all marine wildlife, from whales and dolphins, to sharks and rays, to fish and krill, without exception.

Inspired by Sea Shepherd’s mission, fourth element have created a collection of fourth element X Sea Shepherd limited edition products for ocean lovers and protectors, with 15% of every sale going to the Sea Shepherd fund to help continue to drive conservation efforts globally.

“Working with Sea Shepherd gives fourth element the opportunity to join forces with one of the largest active conservation organisations in the world to try to catalyse change in people’s attitudes and behaviour. Fourth Element’s products are designed, developed and packaged with the intention of minimising our impact on the ocean environment, and with this partnership, we will be supporting the work of Sea Shepherd, in particular in their work on dealing with the twin threats of Ghost fishing nets and plastic pollution.”

Jim Standing fourth element co-founder

Read fourth element’s Sea Shepherd Opinion Piece HERE

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