Articles in Category: SFMI News

SFMI Regional Ambassador named for Honduras

on Monday, 01 February 2010. Posted in SFMI News

Peter WilcoxThe Shark-Free marina initiative would like to welcome and old friend of ours to the SFMI Ambassador program. Peter Wilcox is a Canadian born Dive Instructor and shark conservation advocate that has been working in the Bay Islands of Honduras for several years.

Pete's organization the Shark Legacy Project was recently instrumental in pushing for a complete moratorium on shark fishing in Honduran Waters, a tentative status that for the moment protects all sharks from slaughter. Pete's work is now really cut out for him as he works with the givernment and their officials to make this temporary bill permanent and regulated.

From Peter Wilcox Director of the Shark Legacy Project:

We've had a major victory down here. After our meetings with DIGIPESCA they pushed up the passing of a bill that has now gone into practice. It puts a moratorium on the fishing of all shark species in all the waters of Honduras! Think that makes Honduras the first in the Caribbean to have a shark sanctuary! Part of the drive behind this measure was to cease use of sharks as a resource until research can be done to evaluate the population/species of sharks here. So finally, a government willing to step in before the problem gets unmanageable.

We met with the government this last weekend to discuss how we can assist in this research (as you may be able to guess they do not have much in the way of funding for their own research). We are travelling to Tegucigalpa this week to discuss further research and affiliations to benefit the goals of protecting sharks here.

As if his work isn't already cut out for him we've asked Pete to step up for SFMI and represent the Initiative in Honduras.

Please support the Shark Legacy Project by visiting their website and spreading the news of their win through your social networks.

Bite Me gamefishing charters representing SFMI

on Friday, 29 January 2010. Posted in SFMI News

Just a quick one today. SFMI Regional Ambassador Stuart Gow sent over these shots of 'Bite Me', the #1 fishing boat in Fiji displaying SFMI signage on board. Kudos Guys and thanks to Stuart for all his hard work in Fiji.

Are you a marina owner/manager? Follow their example and register your facility with Shark-Free Marinas today. Want to get involved with SFMI? Visit our Regional Ambassadors page for more info.

SFMI reaches it's first member in Tonga

on Wednesday, 27 January 2010. Posted in SFMI News

That's right, Shark-Free Marinas has hit the Kingdom of Tonga! "Target One" is a fast 27' game fishing and sport fishing boat operation, operating in the warm, clear blue waters of Vava'u in the Kingdom of Tonga. Led by the amazing example set in Fiji, which is close to becoming the first SFMI registered nation, we look forward to recruiting more marinas and businesses in the Pacific island nations.

Thanks to Mike in Fiji, an SFMI Ambassador, for making this happen.

Are you a marina owner/manager? Follow their example and register your facility with Shark-Free Marinas today. Want to get involved with SFMI? Visit our Regional Ambassadors page for more info.

PADI Project Aware backs Shark-Free Marina Initiative in Fiji

on Tuesday, 19 January 2010. Posted in SFMI News

Marina's and resorts across Fiji are taking the lead in shark conservation.  The International Shark-Free Marina Initiative works with marinas, boaters and fishermen to develop policy designed to protect a vital component of the oceans health, our sharks. Thanks to funding from Project AWARE Foundation and under the leadership of SFMI Regional Ambassador Stuart Gow from Matava- Fiji's Premier Eco Adventure Resort, over 20 marinas and fishing charters on Fiji's tropical islands have already signed their commitment.

The Shark Free Marinas program encourages shark conservation at sport fishing and resort marinas by prohibiting the landing of any shark at the participating facility. Fishermen are not allowed to bring caught sharks into the participating marina for any purpose.

Stuart Gow, Matava - Fiji said, "By asking vessels not to arrive at marinas with sharks we hope to encourage responsible sport fishing and ensure the future of healthy reefs and our islands.  We look forward to signing up more marinas and charters in the coming months."

Joanne Marston, Asia Pacific Manager for Project AWARE added, "It's great to see so many marinas and fishing charters practice responsible fishing practices and pledge their commitment to shark conservation."

Please visit the Project Aware website and lend your support

Vero Beach Municipal Marina now a Shark Free Marina

on Saturday, 05 December 2009. Posted in SFMI News

Vero Beach Municipal Marina in Florida is now registered as a Shark Free Marina.

The mission of the Vero Beach Municipal Marina is to provide efficient first class service at reasonable cost to resident and visiting boaters in a manner that reflects well on the character of the City of Vero Beach. In order to fulfill our mission Marina personnel are trained to:

  • Exercise time and material cost consciousness, while implementing business practices that meet Marina Industry and City Standards. These practices are carried out in a labor-intensive activity requiring acute safety awareness on the part of each employee.
  • Act as goodwill ambassadors for the city by promoting tourism and local business patronage.
  • Insure that Marina and Mooring operations maintain a favorable relationship with neighboring residents, clubs and businesses.
  • To promote Clean Marina practices and assist in developing programs and procedures to keep the Indian River clean and environmentally safe.

Located on the East side of the Indian River Lagoon, just north of the Merrill Barber (Hwy 60) Bridge, the City of Vero Beach prides itself on being a center for maritime information and hospitality for over 3,000 visiting boats each year. These visiting boaters spend a phenomenal 20,000 overnights with us. Rental moorings and slips are available on a daily or monthly basis (call for monthly details). Gasoline, diesel, and pump out services are available on our 70 ft. fuel dock. Approaches to the fuel dock are 8-10 ft. Facilities and services include free bus service to town, Laundromat, TV lounge, WiFi, mail drop and pick-up, bicycle and vehicle parking, restrooms, showers, trash disposal, waste oil disposal, and a park with picnic shelters and barbecues.

Support their business by dropping by their facility at:
City Marina at Marker 139 on the Intracoastal Waterway
3611 Rio Vista Boulevard, Vero Beach, FL 32963
Phone: 772-231-2819
Radio: Monitoring VHF CH 16 working CH 66A
Business Hours: 0700 to 1900
E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Are you a marina owner/manager? Follow their example and register your facility with Shark-Free Marinas today. Want to get involved with SFMI? Visit our Regional Ambassadors page for more info.

Shark Fishing tournament engineered to aid conservation

on Friday, 04 December 2009. Posted in SFMI News

Shark fishing tournaments have a bad rap. For years we've campaigned against the culture of mature shark harvest that they engender, in fact they are a big reason that Shark-Free Marinas was formed. In early 2009 the 'Are you man enough' shark tournament came under considerable community pressure as various conservation groups banded together to protest the kill event. In an industry first it's organizer Jack Donlon responded by flipping his event into catch-and-release. Now in 2010 a group of forward thinking scientists, conservation groups and fishing entities have combined to stage a shark fishing tournament that aims to combine science and industry. Each round will be held exclusively out of a Shark-Free Marina registered marina.

The Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge Tournament Series to take place in April / may 2010

- Catch and Release Shark Tournament Hailed as a Model for Sport Fishing Enthusiasts and Marine Conservationists -

Ft. Myers, FL (December 03, 2009) – Jack Donlon, original founder of The Ultimate Shark Challenge Tournament Series, and his co-directors, Sean Paxton and Brooks Paxton II, have teamed up with renowned marine wildlife artist, scientist and conservationist Dr. Guy Harvey to present an innovative competitive event with $100,000 in cash and prizes that will serve as a model for sport fishing enthusiasts and marine conservationists.

The newly branded Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge Tournament Series will be a catch and release competition off the Southwest Florida coast – and much more. “For the first time, what we call a ‘love ‘em and leave ‘em’ shark tournament will be transformed into a true spectator sport,” said Sean Paxton. He and his brother, Brooks, known as the Shark Brothers, continued, “Our shared goal with Dr. Guy Harvey and Jack Donlon, is to give participants and viewers the most interactive, entertaining and educational shark-infested, multimedia spectacle found anywhere on the planet. This is not your grandfather’s fishing contest, but something completely new for a shark fishing tournament.”

Harvey, a long-time marine conservationist and founder of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, said the tournament will increase global awareness of the important role that sharks play in the world’s oceans and our ecosystem. “The Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge Tournament Series will be a uniquely exciting event for participants, spectators and everyone who cares about the future of our oceans,” Guy Harvey said.

A total of 60 fishing teams will compete in the 2010 tournament, which will begin with three separate qualifying rounds next April and May. The series kicks off in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, on April 9 – 11th, with additional stops in Marco Island and Sarasota.  Twenty teams will compete in each round and the top four will qualify to compete in the two-day Grand Championship Finale on May 22-24. The finale and its sister event, Shark Fest –a family-friendly, educational and entertaining event for all ages – are sponsored by Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium and the Center for Shark Research in Sarasota.

Tournament organizers hope that this event will become the “next generation” model for shark fishing competitions. Joining Donlon, the Paxton brothers and Guy Harvey in this ambitious effort are strategic partners Robert E. Hueter, Ph.D, director of Mote Marine Laboratory’s Center for Shark Research; Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah; Luke Tipple, director of Shark-Free Marinas; and other advocates of environmental stewardship.

"With the increasing demands facing our marine resources, we saw an opportunity to implement an alternative to traditional harvest formats that is not only environmentally sound, but also a viable tournament business model,” said Jack Donlon. “Through strategic alliances and with the support of like-minded corporations, such as Guy Harvey Inc., our vision will become a reality.”

Hueter noted that the staff from the Mote Center for Shark Research will oversee all scientific aspects of the tournament, including tagging operations. Selected sharks will be outfitted with satellite tags to track their movements after release. “This project will provide a breakthrough in collaborative research involving the marine scientific and recreational fishing communities,” he added. “By working together to develop a 21st century, conservation-oriented alternative, the Mote Center for Shark Research and tournament organizers will provide a national model, while changing public attitudes about responsible use of marine resources.”

Tournament organizers are planning a major television broadcast, which promises to deliver an adrenaline-fueled mix of extreme angling, cutting-edge research and wildlife management efforts. The show will be co-anchored by the Shark Brothers and Tipple, a marine biologist.

“In these days of technological connectivity, we will be able to put spectators right into the action, above and below the water,” said Tipple. “Our viewers will experience the sheer power and raw beauty of these animals, while seeing scientists and anglers working in concert to protect and understand their world.”

Limited sponsorship opportunities are still available and team entries are currently being accepted for review. For more details and additional contact information, visit: UltimateSharkChallenge.com and www.guyharveyoceanfoundation.org.

About Dr. Guy Harvey:

Born in Lippspringe, Germany in 1955, Harvey is a 10th generation Jamaican of English heritage.  Growing up in Jamaica, Harvey spent many hours fishing and diving with his father.  He was obsessed with the creatures of the sea and began drawing pictures of the many different fish he observed.  From those early inspirations, Harvey’s gift of recreating marine life propelled him from Professor of Marine Biology to a wildlife artist and photographer. He initially opted for a scientific education, earning high honors in Marine Biology at Aberdeen University in Scotland in 1977. He continued his formal training at the University of West Indies, where he obtained a Doctorate in Fisheries Management.  A vocal proponent of catch-and-release, Harvey generously donates artwork, time and funds for numerous institutions and conservation groups, including the Guy Harvey Research Institute established at Nova Southeastern University in 1999.  In 2008, Harvey created the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, which supports marine conservation, research and education efforts.  For additional information on Guy Harvey, visit www.GuyHarveyinc.com. For complete information on the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, visit www.GuyHarveyOceanFoundation.org.

Attention Regional Ambassadors, a shining example from one of your members

on Saturday, 31 October 2009. Posted in SFMI News

The staff of Shark-Free Marinas will be away at sea until the middle of November. However there is still so much work that can be done, in fact the power of SFMI is in your hands.

Here is an example of what one person can do, well, two. Duncan Brake and Jillian Morris have been on-board with SFMI since the start and are perfect examples of Regional Ambassadors. They've produced this video which we hope inspires you to go to your local marina and encourage them to be a part of the solution and reduce worldwide shark mortality. You don't have to make a video about your contribution... but if you do we promise to feature it here and give you the credit you so deserve.

Shark-Free Marina Initiative Gains Momentum

on Monday, 26 October 2009. Posted in SFMI News

Written by SFMI Regional Ambassador, Jillian Morris

The Shark Free Marina Initiative is one devoted to reducing worldwide shark mortality rates. Participating marinas will prohibit the landing of any shark within the marina for any purpose (i.e. meat processing, photos, and finning). They will encourage the practice of catch and release for those who insist on sport fishing for sharks. The movement is gaining strength and spreading globally, as people realize that it can be a powerful tool in shark conservation.

Duncan Brake and I live on the island of Bimini and as regional ambassadors for the campaign, we have been working on recruiting other marinas in the Bahamas. The Bimini Sands Resort and Marina was the first in all of the Bahamas to sign onto the campaign and has motivated others to follow suit. Bimini is a special location because big game fishing is as deeply rooted in its culture as are Hemingway and rum.

Weekend warriors travel from Florida in search of a prize fish. They hit known shark diving spots, shooting fish in a barrel so to speak. They also fish for sharks within the marinas, only to haul them onto the docks, take a picture, cut out their jaws and then throw the remains back. It is important to educate those who visit and live in Bimini on the importance of sharks to the ecosystems. Conch, lobster and fishing are staples in the economy and without sharks they will not exist. It is necessary that the locals understand this connection if they are expected to get involved and take action.

In March of this year I introduced the campaign to Nathan Moody, director of operations at the Old Bahama Bay Marina. Located on the West End of Grand Bahama, the marina is the customs clearance point for the primary liveaboard vessels that run Tiger Beach dive charters. Nathan was very excited about the project and eager to get the resort involved. They wanted to be on point with conservation messages and to encourage a positive image about sharks.

It took several months to get all the necessary people on the same page and in the same spot, but on September 10, 2009 the marina officially hung its Shark Free signs. The marina runs at high occupancy, so there is a massive turnover of boaters that will see the signs. This is a huge step for the Bahamas and a victory for sharks. Their involvement will hopefully be a catalyst for other large marinas throughout the islands to join. Even though marinas are hesitant to turn customers away with the current economic situation, it is crucial for them to understand that saving the ocean far exceeds the money that shark fisherman would have spent. As prominent marinas join, like Old Bahama Bay, we hope a strong message echoes across the globe.

For more information on the campaign or to sign on check out www.sharkfreemarinas.com

Shark-Free Marinas ... in the Mississippi?!

on Monday, 19 October 2009. Posted in SFMI News

Here's a great eco-story to start the week for a change. The Harbor Point Yacht Club has just registered as Shark-Free. That's great right?! But get this, the marina is located at Mile 204.2 on the Right Descending Bank of the Upper Mississippi River. That's right, we're now inland.

While SFMI usually focuses it's attention to coastal facilities the Commodore of the HPYC had this to say about a species of shark that is occasionally found far from the oceans, the Bull Shark:

Many years ago a Bull Shark was documented in lock 26, just down stream from our harbor. I plan on posting the sign on one of my docks right at the Harbor Mouth where all vessels entering can see it. It will cause folks to talk about the subject and we will get the message out. As a PADI dive instructor supporting this cause is a natural.

The next time a bull shark makes it's way up the river we hope that conversations like this make people realize that this is part of the animals natural territory. Even more to the point is that these rare events make us aware that all waterways deserve equal protection and consideration from conservation efforts.

Here's a little about the facility

Harbor Point Yacht Club is a dockominium marina located on the Mississippi River in West Alton, Missouri. This private marina offers you an opportunity to own part of the harbor. This area of the river is also known as the Alton Pool, being created by the Melvin Price Lock and Dam, located just downstream of Alton, Illinois.

You would be hard pressed to find a more beautiful harbor along the river than Harbor Point Yacht Club! The well maintained grounds blend the naturally wooded harbor with beautiful flower beds. These flower beds undergo a make over every year as the popular Harbor Clean Up Day helps kick off the new boating season. The harbor offers 77 slips in the sailboat basin and 145 covered slips in the power boat basin, ranging from 40 to 72 feet. Naturally, all slips are floating and the basins and mouth of the harbor are routinely dredged to accommodate the changing river levels.

A popular gathering spot in the summer is the Club House, next to the heated pool. The Club House offers air conditioned relief from the heat with full kitchen and shower facilities. The North Lift House offers a great view of the harbor as the many windows overlook the sailboat basin.

Sounds good to us! Support their business and visit their website at www.hpyc.info

Are you a marina owner/manager? Follow their example and register your facility with Shark-Free Marinas today. Want to get involved with SFMI? Visit our Regional Ambassadors page for more info.

Mako gaff investigation continues... more revealing video surfaces

on Friday, 16 October 2009. Posted in SFMI News

Last week we broke the story of a Mako Shark that was apparently free gaffed off the coast of Florida. The issue was not a moral debate about shark fishing and endangered animals, it was a legal issue of potential fishing code violations.

If you did have not yet read about the issue please read this article which outlines the potential State and federal laws broken by these fisherman.

The question we and many other groups raised was one of legality. Was the shark captured legally (ie with primary tackle consisting of rod and reel) or was the capture made with a running or conventional gaff. If the latter then this 'secondary tackle' capture was not legal and the fishermen should face the penalty.

The matter is now in the hands of the federal enforcement arm of NOAA and initial reports speculate that the fishermen may get off on a technicality. As we await final decisions we wanted you to stay informed and perhaps make a judgment for yourself. This video surfaced last week and shows more of the capture then previously shown. Initially it was playing on the Bluewater Movement website (the fishermens media agency) but it has since been removed from their Youtube channel, Facebook page and their website. We can only speculate as to why it was removed but we're guessing being investigated by the Feds may have been a motive.

Fortunately for us, before that happened one of our media friends managed to grab a copy...

Shark-Free Marina Advisers analyzed the video and came to these conclusions:

(We've) Watched this enough to render an opinion that, even after the FOX interview, it is still unclear, as to whether or not, the fish was first gaffed or baited on conventional gear - first, and that's the key. The footage appears absent of any sizeable rod and / or reel. There are some seconds towards the end of the Fox footage where it appears one of them is hand-leadering the fish to boat side ... appears that's what's happening. Begs the question, then, if they hand-lined the fish. Bunn makes mention of getting the fish to take a hook, and vague mention of cutting and re-tying the 'line'. It's very odd, the round-about accounts of what happened. We don't know if that's because of the fishermen getting a head's up about possible federal investigations?
- Sean and Brooks Paxton

This video not only casts a dim light on the legality of their catch it also highlights the role of the media in such an event. That will be a subject of many blog posts to come but let it suffice to say that we look forward to a day when reporters can recognize possible crimes and conduct due diligence before once again resorting to the bloody glory story of man vs the monster. For now it seems it's up to groups like Shark-Free Marinas (and many other concerned groups) to watch and guard against further wrongful depletion of the oceans most critical apex predators.

For the record SFMI has repeatedly written to the fishermen at question asking for a comment and their story, but we have yet to receive a response.

A letter to the Mako fishermen under federal investigation, from their peers

on Friday, 09 October 2009. Posted in SFMI News

(If you have not been following this story and are unaware of it's ramifications please read the article here)

Hello Luke -

Thanks to your initiative and inquiries, we expect, as this plays out, an eventual full disclosure. For now, it appears that responsibility of the facts are not exclusive to the anglers involved, but are shared with the reporting news agency. Until we know more, we'll reserve benefit-of-the-doubt, but not without comment.

As advocates for sustainability, we've personally evolved from a place where subduing a fish like this using legal, conventional and sporting methods would've been a perfectly natural thing for us to do. This isn't to say we're any better now or holier-than-thou standing next to our fellow sportsmen. It's just us and it's a fact, based on our personal, first-hand experience with the changes we've seen 'out there' over the past three plus decades. We're the first to admit that opinions are like @**holes and elbows -- just about everyone's got 'em. With that said, encounters with animals like this mako are, indeed, increasingly rare. In our personal experience and first-hand observation, that 'opinion' extends from Florida to the far reaches of the northeastern seaboard where we've encountered our fair share of makos over the years. As of late, they are smaller and much less common. Imagining us in a situation, today, like these anglers found themselves in, we'd have considered hopping over the side with video cameras. Closer interaction using rod and reel, and catch / tag / release methods would be another choice, but hey, that's just us.

As extremely discriminating participants in, and consumers of the media, we're unfortunately not surprised, but no less disappointed, that yet another shark catching story has been allowed to run amok. Aside from the obligatory footnote about the shark being consumed for food that ended the piece, it felt pretty much like 1976 all over again. We sort of had that same feeling you get when you watch some well intended, but talentless hack butchering a classic tune during auditions for 'American Idol'. You're kind of pissed, but you can't help feeling embarrassed for the poor sob. This reporting was just another fine example of your average, sensationalized, if it bleeds - it leads, news story. In other words, 'Why let the facts get in the way of a good story'? No excuse.

Finally, as big game anglers, we understand the distinct smell that boiling human blood gives off when a big fish appears causing our hunter-gather instincts to take over the mental wheel house. These anglers were noted as having fished together for the past 15 years. We're going out on a skinny limb here, but it seems possible this is the biggest fish any of them have ever encountered. If so, that, in and of itself, helps make sense of some of what we watched, and more importantly, heard in the news piece, and it goes a long way in shedding light on the 'anglers' subsequent actions and decisions. Inexperience, blind excitement and panic. It happens, and it's a recipe for, well ... exactly what we see here. It's no small wonder this story didn't include more in the way of serious injuries or worse. At least they dodged those bullets.

Absent of all the facts, and as fellow recreational anglers, we'd like to pose a few questions directly to these guys, without prejudice or judgment of their actions, but just to help us all learn something useful before eventually putting this one to rest. Unlike the reporter, we're actually interested in the facts behind this somewhat unbelievable fish story. We've handled a lot of big sharks from a boat deck and we've been scratching holes in our heads trying to figure out how this animal was captured using gaffs alone. It just seems there's got to be more to it than what the reporter mentioned. So, as anglers, we ask:

  1. Was swordfish your primary species target that day?
  2. Is the sword in the video one you caught ... that day?
  3. If so, did the shark follow it in, while on the line, or did it show up later, as the sword was tied off at boat side?
  4. Once it showed up, how long was it played before the harvest decision was made?
  5. At any time after the mako was sighted, did any of you consider pitching it a bait with conventional rod and reel tackle?
  6. If not, was that because you didn't have anything rigged and ready or that gaffing the fish seemed a better alternative?
  7. Did any of you realize or consider the legality of this chosen method, at the time?
  8. How many and exactly what types of gaffs were used (a flying gaffs seems to briefly appear about 35 sec. into the video)?
  9. If a flying gaff was used, how long was the fish tied off to it?
  10. Once the first gaff was placed, how long did it take (the fight) until the fish was brought on board?
  11. Was the fish dragged and drown before bringing it on board?
  12. When and/or were any other devices used, i.e. harpoons, tail ropes, firearms, float balls?
  13. How/why was the media contacted?

And one final question that may help to answer a lot of others. We know, first hand, exactly how stories can get twisted from actual interview to broadcast or publication. Given the resulting circumstances, how accurate, in your mind, was the reporting on your story and what would you like to say in your own defense or to otherwise clarify the incident?

Like Luke Tipple said:

This isn’t about animal rights, persecuting fishermen or slandering a news network. This is about promoting public knowledge of acceptable fishing practices. Your story (the reporter's) made light of possible, and serious, code violations in regards to a threatened species of shark. That is not acceptable. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that the media practices responsibility in its reporting.

You are the only ones that really know what happened. Right or wrong. Legal or not, you have an opportunity to be the exception and not the rule ... do the right thing and set the record straight.

Over & Out,
Sean Paxton
Brooks Paxton II

Sean and Brooks Paxton aka the Shark Brothers are well known both in the Shark Fishing and Conservation community. They are also valued Advisers of the Shark-Free Marina Initiative. They can be reached through their website at adventureandwildlife.com

When 'One Shark' Becomes An Ambassador

on Thursday, 08 October 2009. Posted in SFMI News

In light of a recent and apparently free gaffed breeding aged Mako shark off the coast of Florida this week, we thought this post from Sharkdivers deserved a second look:

You see it all the time. A large shark swimming on the other side of a public aquariums enclosure, an "ambassador shark". For those in the shark conservation world we have come to realize the positive effects of these solo animals on the public perception of sharks in general.

But what about dead sharks?

They too serve a purpose. Perhaps it is the sheer numbers of sharks that get taken for fins each year (60-100 million) that become the conservation movements hardest challenge.

How do you generate understanding and public sympathy for a number?

A single dead shark can generate understanding, sympathy and action. It was a single pregnant female Tiger taken in the Bahamas back in 2007 that spawned the Shark Free Marinas Initiative.

The public, no matter how jaded towards sharks, will respond to a single animal taken and killed for no obvious reason, and that is the heart if the shark conservation movement.

One shark, an ambassador for the entire species.

For a prime example of this look no further than a recent take in Ireland of an 18 foot Six Gill shark. This sport take of a single animal has managed to raise the ire and media bandwidth of many around the world including Ireland. This single animals death prompted a wave of conservation discussion - a feat that all the long liners off Ireland's coast could not.

We covered it too as it was quickly evident that this single shark was going to become the ambassador animal for the regions conservation news. Conservation change starts with the public understanding of sharks and "Sympathy for the Devil".

We can get there with these few unfortunate animals.

From SharkDivers blogger Patric Douglas, CEO of Sharkdiver.com

Real Men of Genius Free-Gaff Giant Mako Shark: The Honest Angler weighs in

on Thursday, 08 October 2009. Posted in SFMI News

This article is by Joe Cermele of Field and Streams 'Honest Angler'
(If you have not been following this story and are unaware of it's ramifications please read the article here)

Okay. I'm about to get a little rowdy. This week, someone forwarded me a news article about a 748-pound mako shark caught in South Florida. My initial thought was "there's been a lot bigger caught this year," but I checked it out anyway. After watching the video below and reading the story, I have decided that these guys deserve the title of "Most Amateur Idiots on the Water." See for yourself. They didn't "catch" anything. They free-gaffed a hot mako.

The Honest Angler is a fishing Blog written by Field and Streams John Merwin and Joe Cermelle... click on the link to read the rest of this article.

Captain Slate's Atlantis Dive Center now Shark-Free

on Thursday, 08 October 2009. Posted in SFMI News

Another day another marina. This time it's Captain Slates dive center, home to passionate scuba divers from all over Florida and a marina dock that services it's boats. As a potential docking point for fishing boats with access to the rich fishing grounds of Key Largo this is a great addition to the Shark-Free Marinas program.

Their decision to join up makes an obvious point: although shark fishing, or any fishing, may not be a regular source of commerce for the marina, they should still register with SFMI. Consider the no-smoking sign, we see it everywhere and register subconsciously that smoking is bad for our health and the well-being of people around us. It is therefore not socially acceptable in public places. I mean really, who these days would light up a cigarette in an elevator? Most likely no-one, but yet there is a sign to make sure.

Shark-Free Marinas is like that. It sets socially responsible standards of conduct when dealing with threatened species of shark. The more marinas that register the more it becomes socially accepted that killing sharks is not good for our environment.

That being said not every single marina will be Shark-Free. But if 1 in 10 allows caught sharks then policing standards and fishing codes becomes that much easier, and everyone wins.

Thanks to Captain Slate for setting a standard, check out their business here: www.captainslate.com

Are you a marina owner/manager? Follow their example and register your facility with Shark-Free Marinas today. Want to get involved with SFMI? Visit our Regional Ambassadors page for more info.

'Just News Ten' responds but mako shark capture still under investigation

on Thursday, 08 October 2009. Posted in SFMI News

On Tuesday, Florida TV station Just News 10 reported on a 748lb Mako shark that appeared to have been free-gaffed from the water, a practice that is illegal in State and Federal waters. Shark-Free Marinas picked up on the possible violation and asked for clarification from JN10. Today they have responded but the legality is still under investigation at a Federal level.

(If you have not been following this story and are unaware of it's ramifications please read the article here)

After numerous calls and emails from the concerned public Just News 10 has said:

Despite public outcry regarding what some considered the unnecessary killing of a shark that posed no threat, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission determined that Tuesday's capture was perfectly legal. (Link to Article)

Here's the problem. The FWC have not seen the video AND this is out of their jurisdiction... and that's a problem.

Regarding the Just News 10 updated report

To give due diligence to JN10's statement I today spoke to George Pinot of the FWC . He is the officer who was contacted by reporter Rob Schmitt for an official determination of the captures legality. Mr Pino today went on record as saying:

I spoke to the reporter who described the event and stated that if the capture happened as he said (rod and reel followed by gaff) then it would be legal under current laws. However I have not seen the video and have never stated that this particular capture was legal. In any case the fact that it occurred 18 miles from shore means that it is out of our jurisdiction. I have passed this on to the Federal Authorities (NOAA .ed) who are officially investigating the matter and we will await their determination.
George Pino, FWC

Its time to State the obvious

Ok Just News 10, it's time to officially ask you for clarification. Your report is inaccurate.

It's plain that your story upset quite a few people. SFMI has received many emails and comments from people looking for an answer to the question:

Was it legal?

But here's the real issue, much of the public 'outcry' was in relation to code violations, not animal rights. They are completely different issues and in these times of necessary conservation it is misguided of you to disregard valid legal questions.

Responsibility in the media

Here is the letter I sent yesterday to the reporter involved. I'd like you to read it and consider the role the media plays in modern day conservation:

Good Afternoon Rob,

I've been forwarded a number of emails from people seeking the same answers I am as a result of your story. I can appreciate that as a reporter your job is to deliver the news and to entertain, but along with that role comes a responsibility towards public awareness. As you can see this issue has now crossed the country and has featured on Good morning LA as well as the LA Times.

You've said that the fishermen were acting within their rights by using primary tackle (rod and reel) to capture the animal before gaffing it. If that is the case then your editor did you a disservice by removing any footage of them legally capturing the animal.

Today I have spoken to numerous news agencies as well as the enforcement arm of NOAA who will be investigating the matter. If you are correct then the fishermen will be cleared by providing the footage of a legal capture, if not, they will be prosecuted.

I would like to ask you to pre-empt any further embarrassment to the fishermen and do a follow up story clearing their name... with footage to prove it. This is not an issue of animal rights, cruelty or fishermen vs greenies, this is sheerly a matter of enforcement of marine laws and the responsibility of the media to be accurate, especially when dealing with threatened species (current IUCN data).

You have the power to fix this and whatever the result there will be lessons learned here. I appreciate your time and await your response.

Cheers,
Luke Tipple
Director of the Shark-Free Marina Initiative
www.sharkfreemarinas.com

Action currently taking place

As the catch was made 18 miles off the coast of Ft Lauderdale the fishing code of conduct is not set by the FWC. As stated on the FWC website:

Individual states manage sharks in their waters from shore to three miles offshore; however, their management is coordinated by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) through an Interstate Fishery Management Plan.  NOAA Fisheries, Division of Highly Migratory Species (HMS), regulates Atlantic sharks from three to 200 miles offshore.

Fisheries Biologist Craig Cockrell of NOAA today confirmed that there is an active NOAA investigation being conducted by it's enforcement branch. He also stated that there may be some jurisdictional issues as the shark was officially landed (ie brought to the dock) but the FWC have officially passed this along to NOAA who will make the determination.

Conclusion and directions for the future

Regardless of the outcome I think the fishermen have been embarrassed enough. Just News 10, please consider that you play a vital role in public education and run a follow up story showing the footage of the legal capture, if it occurred. One frame of the guys with a fishing rod and reel pulling the shark in would be enough to clear their name. If this is not possible, and the capture was illegal, then please cooperate with the Feds.

This isn't about animal rights, persecuting fishermen or slandering a news network. This is about promoting public knowledge of acceptable fishing practices. Your story made light of possible, and serious, code violations in regards to a threatened species of shark. That is not acceptable. I don't think it's too much to ask that the media practices responsibility in it's reporting.

So I'm asking you, with all due respect, to follow up on this story and consider the extremely positive role the media can take in modern day conservation and public education.

SFMI will be publishing updates as they occur.

Luke Tipple
Director of the Shark-free Marina Initiative
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