Local Chapter to Spearhead Efforts and Legislation to Conserve Oceans and Sharks

Chicago, IL (PRWEB) March 25, 2012

Shark Stewards, a non-profit shark conservation organization based in California and responsible for leading that state’s recent campaign to ban the shark fin trade, announced the launch of its new Chicago chapter to support shark conservation efforts in Illinois. Shark Stewards is dedicated to conserving ocean health through the protection of sharks. The local chapter of Shark Stewards will focus on engaging citizens and supporting legislation HB 4119 (Feigenholtz) to ban the trade, sale, and consumption of shark fin in the state of Illinois.

According to scientists, at least 107 species of sharks worldwide have had population sizes so reduced that they are threatened with extinction. The shark fin trade is widely believed to drive the world-wide overfishing of sharks, with over 100 million sharks killed every year. “The process of shark finning – killing sharks solely for the fins – is wasteful, cruel and causing shark populations to decline dramatically,” explains David McGuire, Shark Stewards’ executive director and award-winning conservation filmmaker and marine biologist. “When shark populations are reduced, the overall health of ocean ecosystems declines. By reducing the demand for shark fin we can help stop the devastation occurring in our oceans.” Shark Stewards is presently creating a legislative toolkit to support volunteers for similar legislation in other states.

“I am thrilled to help Sharks here in Chicago,” said Janet Thomas, chair of the Shark Stewards Illinois Chapter, a dive expedition leader and owner of 3rd Coast, an award winning restaurant located in the Gold Coast of Chicago. “Measures to eliminate trade in shark fins have been passed with near-unanimous bipartisan support in Hawaii, California, Washington, and Oregon. I believe we can make it happen here, too. We are dishing up something special to support sharks at 3rd Coast Friday night the 30th to support shark protection.”

Similar efforts are underway in Texas, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, Florida, and New York.

The newly launched Shark Stewards Chicago Chapter has already begun assembling a team of volunteers and supporters  to participate in two awareness and fund raising events March 29 and 30th in Chicago.

“I am energized by the number of people who are interested in this important issue,” said respected local jazz musician and sustainable energy champion Jeff Morrison. “We are going to party for the sharks!”  Morrison will be playing as a benefit at the popular venue The Local Optionon 1102 Webster Thursday March 29. The Local Option is in Lincoln Park, and features the city’s largest and most unique selection of local, regional and international beers on tap.  McGuire will be attending both events with other shark specialists in support of the Illinois effort.