Stop Shark Finning and IUU Fishing
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Association (UN FAO) estimates that 15-30% of all fish are Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU). IUU fishing across the world’s oceans weighs in at around 11–26 million tonnes of fish each year or a price tag of US $10–23 billion. Shark finning is a particularly egregious example of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. Driven by greed and inadequate enforcement, even countries with shark finning regulations suffer from poaching and illegal killing of sharks. The trade of high value shark fins is tied in with IUU fishing, where even legally harvested shark fin becomes mixed in with illegally and unsustainably harvested fins.
Marine Protected Areas- Where We Work
National Marine Sanctuaries
Shark Stewards has worked in the 4 California National Marine Sanctuaries since 1982: first in the Channel Islands diving; then moving north to the Monterey Bay, Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. In the past decade we have recorded whale sightings and supported slowing shipping traffic through the GFNMS into the San Francisco Bay to prevent shipstrikes; worked as advocates to eliminate oil spills and potential drilling in the Sanctuaries; educating the public and assisting with white shark observations at the Farallon Islands and; serving as board member on the Cordell Bank Sanctuary Foundation.
We supported Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey’s proposal to increase the Sanctuary expansion off San Francisco, implemented under her successor Congressman Jared Huffman as the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. This expansion protected more habitat from bottom trawling and oil exploration by expanding the Farallon Sanctuary from approximately 1,282 square miles to approximately 3,295 square miles, and Cordell Bank from approximately 529 square miles to approximately 1,286 square miles in June 2015.
California Marine Protected Areas
In California we served as stakeholders supporting the Marine Life Protection Act, supporting the implementation of the North Central region marine protected areas (MPAs), from Alder Creek (near Point Arena) to Pigeon Point, as a component of the statewide MPA network.
MPAs protect the diversity and abundance of marine life, the habitats they depend on, and the integrity of marine ecosystems. Beginning in 2007, we participated as interested stakeholders to increase marine protection in the North Central California region as part of the State Marine Life Protection Act of 1999. Currently around 16% of state waters encompassing over 120 MPAs is protected under this system.
Since 2015 we have served as the Co-chair of the Golden Gate MPA Collaborative, tasked with generating public support and compliance with the MPAs in San Francisco and Marin Counties, and work statewide interacting with Fish and Wildlife, other stakeholders and public and the Ocean Protection Council.We are actively engaging the public along the coast and especially at the Farallon Islands, supporting the MPA system, facilitating compliance and collecting observations of human behavior and species richness in the MPAs.
In Southeast Asia we are working with local partners to protect coral reef and mangrove habitat to save sharks and other species. In 2015 we joined Dr. Steve Oakley to develop the Tropical Research and Conservation Center (TRACC) supporting reef protection in Malaysia,
With TRACC we also helped build the coral reef restoration and fish protection at Pom Pom Island in Sabah, Borneo. This largely citizen science supported effort is rebuilding damaged coral reefs, protecting remaining reefs, saving sea turtles and we reintroduced sharks to the reef.
With WWF and TRACC we advocated and supported the introduction of Malaysia’s largest MPA in the Tun Mustapha Marine Park.
In 2019 Shark Stewards partnered with the Sustainable Oceans, Research, Conservation and Education organization (SORCE) to establish a conservation initiative and center in West Nusa Tegarra, Indonesia. Managed full time by Kiara and Michael Majerus, the eco-dive and conservation center is based in Sukatong Bay on southern Lombok island.
Join us diving (or learning how to dive) and helping with hands-on shark, coral reef and reef protection. SORCE teaches marine biology, and offers Basic and Advanced Open Water PADI SCUBA certifications in a tropical setting.
These trips include hands-on conservation, learning Reef Check and Fish Survey methodologies gathering data at the field station and diving. If you are not SCUBA certified dive certifications are offered by SORCE for an additional fee.
In 2019 we were invited by USAID to support the launch of a new shark and marine protection initiative supported by sustainable ecotourism under the Tourism for All initiative. One of the newest nations in the world, this country hosts some of the world’s most biodiverse reef systems. With local leaders including Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, dive and whale tour operators, government and NGOS we helped launch the Association of Marine Tourism (Asosiasaun Turismu Maritima Timor Leste).
The association is committed to supporting the Government of Timor-Leste’s to diversify its economy beyond oil and fishing by promoting sustainable ecotourism with economic benefits flowing to local communities, private tourism operators and the government. In summer 2020 we intend to rejoin our partners and participate in shark surveys and conservation, and lead the way for a new grassroots marine conservation program in the region.
Our goals include monitoring and supporting the networks of Locally Marine Managed Areas (local Marine Protected Area) on Atauro and growing the network along the main island to protect sharks, sea turtles. dugongs and coral reef ecosystems in fish on adjacent islands (Secret Gilies). Tourists can visit Atauro, learn to SCUBA, participate in fish and coral reef transects going into a long term database for science and management. We will also apply citizen science to record observations of all sharks, rays, sea turtles and other import marine megafauna in the region.