Articles in Category: SFMI News

SFMI catches the eye of "Sportfishing Magazine"

on Tuesday, 01 September 2009. Posted in SFMI News

Dead Sharks Encourage No-Fishing Zones
From the October 2009 issue of Sport Fishing
Sep 1, 2009
By Doug Olander (More articles by this author)

That news item caught my attention when I saw it online. It's no secret that many species of large sharks are in varying degrees of trouble worldwide. The primary culprit is the by-now infamous practice of finning — hacking off the fins of sharks (often while they're still alive) and tossing the body back to sink and decompose on the ocean floor.

The practice has been widely banned but
(a) not before many shark stocks were severely impacted;
(b) it's still legal in many areas; and
(c) it's still widely practiced (in largely unpatrolled waters) where it's not legal.

The motivation for the barbaric and wasteful practice is an old one: greed.

Shark fins bring relatively big bucks on the Asian market: think shark-fin soup. A few pounds of fins are worth more than a few hundred pounds of shark meat — and even a small boat can bring in a lot of fins, representing tons of dead sharks.

Recent estimates have put that tonnage of sharks killed each year   for their fins as high as 100 million; however, a recent study suggests a  figure of about 38 million tons. Either way, it bodes ill for these ecologically vital apex predators.

In this context, it's interesting to see the formation of the nonprofit group Shark-Free Marinas (www.sharkfreemarinas.com), intent on "reducing worldwide shark mortality" by persuading marinas to sign on with a pledge to prohibit the landing of any shark.

Of course, the recreational fishery — even at the half-million sharks killed per year by one estimate — represents but a fraction of the worldwide shark-finning massacre. Some might argue that for this very reason, it's pointless to bother even trying to dissuade anglers from bringing back large sharks to hang up on the scales for a weight and photo or to score points in a shark tournament.

Miami's famous and (more often) infamous skipper, Mark the Shark, might be one who'd make that argument. Well known for encouraging his clients to kill just about any large shark they hook, the ironically self-named skipper claims on his website that thanks to his unequalled expertise on capturing sharks, his dead sharks have "been a great benifit [sic] to science."

Those trying to convince marinas worldwide to forbid off-loading large dead sharks would say otherwise. Their efforts have a long way to go, but several marinas — in the United States, Bahamas and Fiji — had signed on as of this writing.

Recently, other actions suggest an increasing awareness among the mainstream recreational-fishing community that populations of large, slow-growing sharks are in a tenuous position (with the National Marine Fisheries Service officially considering most species overfished in the Atlantic) and need help. And, of course, in addition to doing what they feel is the right thing, many believe it's the smart thing.

While slaughtering and hanging up dead sharks so a client can get a photo and tourists can gawk may work for Mark the Shark, a broader view is that hanging up big, dead sharks fosters a public perception of recreational fishing as a sport of greed and carnage and plays right into the hands of concerned, hard-core green groups trying to close off the ocean to angling.

For this reason, it was gratifying to learn recently that the International Game Fish Association is considering a proposal — submitted by IGFA board member Guy Harvey — to stop keeping world records for tiger sharks and great hammerheads.

Also, Gray's Taxidermy, one of the largest providers of fish mounts, has finally announced that it would no longer accept sharks or any parts of them for fish mounts, finally joining some other progressive taxidermists who years ago began making only fiberglass-replica mounts. Charter skippers who work with Gray's have lost one excuse to kill sharks.

It seems that the pendulum among sport fishermen continues to swing gradually toward not killing large sharks. But it has a long way to go. Among charter skippers and some private boaters, there remains the sentiment that killing an occasional large shark is insignificant in the scheme of things and that as long as the only fish killed are taken legally, doing so bears no shame. In fact, there are most assuredly those (both among recreational fishermen and the general public) who feel the only good shark is a dead shark.

I admit I'm not one of those sharing that mentality. I applaud shark-free marinas for their efforts. Ditto anglers who carry cameras and, should they wrestle in a huge shark, take home  photos of the great fish boat-side — before its successful release. Those who find it profitable to hang up dead sharks may help their income in the short term but, in the long term, can only hurt everyone else who loves the sport of fishing.

Original article here

Shark Free Marinas featured in Sport Fishing Magazine

on Tuesday, 01 September 2009. Posted in SFMI News

Sustainable shark conservation efforts begin with "One". All it takes is one person with one idea to begin an entire conservation movement.

We would like to salute Doug Olander from Sportfishing Magazine this month for being that "One".

The sport fishing industry in the USA has many industry leaders, those few visionaries that are not afraid to take on serious conservation issues and talk about them.

Doug is one of those leaders and this month wrote full page editorial in Sport Fishing Magazine about the Shark Free Marinas Initiative and others who are working to protect and promote sharks as a sustainable resource.

Unfortunately for Destin Florida they are too late to hear the industry news and act on it. But we have next year and hopefully they will eventually come around to realize that sharks are worth more if we manage them sustainably and not as one time takes for jaws, images and fins.

Kudos to all those who have been the "One" this year from Fiji to the Bahamas and Massachusetts.

Bimini Sands standing up for Shark Conservation

on Tuesday, 01 September 2009. Posted in SFMI News

These images came to us today from Jillian Morris of the Oceanic Allstars, a Shark-Free Marina Regional Associate. These beautiful facilities belong to the Bimini Sands marina which was one of the first forward thinking marinas to register with SFMI.

Thanks for sending these over Jillian. Also a thanks to Duncan Brake for getting the signs made locally in the Bahamas.

Want to learn more about our Regional Associate program? Visit our sign up page and learn how you can not only appear on our website but, more importantly, take action in your area to help make a difference in our oceans.

Shark Free Marinas in Harwich Pt Boat Yard

on Saturday, 15 August 2009. Posted in SFMI News

HARWICH PORT - Nevermore shall sharks darken the docks at the Harwich Port Boat Yard.

It is now the first Shark Free Marina in Massachusetts. Soon there will be signs and other paraphernalia proclaiming the fact, all courtesy of the Shark Free Marina Initiative.

This doesn’t mean sharks themselves couldn’t swim around the boats – they just can’t arrive via hook.

“Sharks are not really a big thing here on the Cape,” noted boatyard owner John Our. “But we all know there is a growing problem, especially with shark finning; catching the sharks and cutting the fins off. So when (Kate Metzler) came to me, it was easy for us.”

Metzler is a sometime Harwich resident who has a lifelong fascination with sharks.

“I love fishing for marlin or tuna,” she explained. “But things are not the way they used to be. We need to correct what’s going on if we can.”

Marlins and sharks can be caught on a catch and release basis.

“Shark fishing is not a bad thing if it’s catch and release,” Our noted. “But cutting the fins off and sending them back is morally wrong. This just shows that we care.”

Even the Martha’s Vineyard shark tournament is doing more measurements by photography and then releasing the sharks, Our noted.

“We can change our fishing philosophy,” Metzler said.

So she set about doing just that.

“I’ve been passionate about sharks since I was young. I was wondering how I can make that my lifelong occupation, waiting for a job like that to come to me, and I thought why not take it upon myself and go before other people. It opened my mind that I don’t need a job, title or organization. You can benefit from all those groups that are out there and on the right path,” Metzler reflected.

Metzler is a dedicated shark advocate.

“I started out a lot different from my sisters; they all liked whales and dolphins. I liked sharks,” she recalled. “As I got older I learned how important they are and I came to have a great appreciation for them as marine animals. I feel we’re killing them from fear or a macho philosophy.”

Not everyone appreciates sharks, although we’re sure Steven Spielberg does, but they have crucial functions.

“They’re an apex predator and they’re an important check and balance on everything below them,” Metzler said. “Everything about them evolved very slowly and they don’t reproduce quickly because you don’t want an abundance of apex predators.”

Metzler summered in Harwich for many years and her parents moved here, from Connecticut, full time in 2001. She currently interns at a nonprofit in New York City.

Despite her interest in sharks, she had never heard of the Shark Free Marinas Initiative until recently, partly because it is an initiative organized in 2008 in the Bahamas to prevent the overfishing of sharks. Sharks are popular sport fish off the Bahamas. Initiative co-founder Patric Douglas was appalled by photos of a hooked 13-foot tiger shark, a threatened species.

“I love sport fishing and I’m always checking web sites and I found one web site that will bring up any article for sharks. I read an article about the Shark Free Marinas Initiative,” Metzler explained. “We still have a huge shark tournament on Martha’s Vineyard and it takes a lot of sharks out of the water because sharks are migratory so they’re taking them from everyone else’s areas and we’re at the point with shark numbers that every one does count.”

Sharks range from the extremely rare (some deep water sharks have never been seen alive) to the relatively abundant (dogfish).

Sharks such as the blue, bull, great white, hammerhead, lemon, white tip, shortfin mako, spiny dogfish, thresher and tiger are caught for sport or fins for shark fin soup, teeth for decoration, salted or smoked meat, liver oil, fish meal or even making “leather.”

There are nine critically endangered sharks and eight endangered ones. Many of the sport sharks fall into the vulnerable category.

Last April, U.S. Sen. John Kerry introduced the Shark Conservation Act with the purpose of closing loopholes in laws banning “finning.” Fishermen chop the fins off while the sharks are still alive, then toss them back into the water to bleed to death. The bill requires fins aboard vessels to be naturally attached to the shark. The Animal Welfare Institute estimates 73 million sharks are killed each year by finning.

“We need to set an example for other nations,” Metzler said.

Metzler decided to set her own example at her home base. Her family keeps their boat at Stone Horse Yacht Club on Wychmere Harbor.

“I call that harbor home,” she said. “I know John Our is very concerned with environmental issues and wants to protect our environment. I felt that was a very good starting spot and can be used as a jumping platform. Kids can learn from this so I thought it would have a strong impact.”

Sharks are not as warm and fuzzy as puppy dogs or even as cheery as dolphins. Conservation-wise they fall into the same category as rattlesnakes and spiders – unloved.

“I understand sharks are scary,” Metzler conceded, “but we have put them in situations that bring them closer to shore. They’re not getting the same food in the ocean so they have to come closer and more people are swimming and surfing so there is a greater chance of contact. But they serve a greater purpose. We need them there. If they don’t eat the seals, the seals will take our cod.”

The Harwich Port Boat Yard is just step one in the campaign.

“I definitely plan on approaching other marinas,” Metzler said.

Learn more about becoming a Regional Associate (like Kate) by visiting our Membership page.

Questionable Great White catch off Oregon Coast

on Friday, 14 August 2009. Posted in SFMI News

Today's news brings up an interesting point about the use and disposal of shark carcasses. Have a read of the following and see below for SFMI's comments:

DEPOE BAY, Ore. -- A 12-foot shark brought in to Depoe Bay on Saturday has been confirmed as a great white shark.

The shark was brought in by a recreational tuna boat. A YouTube video captured the scene.

An Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division trooper working the docks contacted the occupants of the boat after they had already gutted the shark. They told the trooper the shark had become entangled in their crab gear and was pulled to the surface when they pulled in a crab pot.

The trooper, believing the shark to be a great white, seized the shark.

Under State and Federal law, it is unlawful to take or possess great white sharks. The investigation is ongoing.

The shark was released to the Hatfield Marine Science Center on Sunday and positively identified as a great white by the National Marine Fisheries Service and ODFW.

Original article

Straight off the bast the article and video raise a couple of issues that SFMI would like to address:

  1. The Shark is a relatively large juvenile Great White Shark. At this size they are known to follow and consume Tuna which make up a large part of their diet (see the eviscerated evidence removed from it's stomach). While the boat appears to be in the business of crab fishing their story that the shark became entangled in the crab pot lines is a little thin, not totally impossible, but very very thin. These animals are quite powerful and well capable of breaking free of crab pot line.
  2. If indeed the shark was targeted and caught by the fishermen they will most likely be prosecuted for harvesting an endangered species. It seems the authorities are onto this already which is great.

So here's where SFMI can help fishermen and marinas who are in this situation. For the sake of argument let's give the fishermen the benefit of the doubt and say that they found the shark, already dead, ensnared in their crab pot lines. If they'd launched from a registered Shark-free Marina the protocol would be to radio in the predicament to the dock master, asking for their assistance. The Dockmaster would already know the position of the local research professionals as to their need for carcasses and would either grant permission to haul the animal in for collection by authorities or would advise to cut the carcass free to be broken down naturally as it fed the local ecosystem.

This eliminates any question as to the fishermens intentions (the carcass would be inspected for foul play) and saves them from heavy fines/loss of license and various other legal ramifications they now face.

The critics among us will also appreciate the irony of a crab fishermen giving up the chance of having the greatest secret crab fishing spot in his area!

Illegal harvest of Tiger Sharks

on Wednesday, 12 August 2009. Posted in SFMI News

It is unfortunate to see threatened species of sharks harvested for no good reason, but in this article we see an act that should (and hopefully will) be punishable by law.

Here is an excerpt from that article:

Wally Knifley and Erica Schulze, of West Melbourne, were spearfishing Aug. 2 about four miles off the Disney Resort in Wabasso, Knifley told Florida Today. While surfacing near the boat in 30 feet of water with a bag of sheepshead and snapper, Schulze saw an 8-foot-2-inch tiger shark moving in for a closer look.

Too close, for Schulze’s comfort.

Knifley, who had just climbed into the boat, saw the shark closing in and shot it in the head with his speargun. Schulze, who was still in the water, turned around and shot her speargun up into the shark near the pectoral fin.

Schulze climbed into the boat and they pulled the line on their spears to get the shark within gaffing range. But when Knifley sunk the gaff, the shark yanked it out of his hand. A third spear finally helped slow the shark down.

The couple was able to tie a mooring line around the shark’s tail and rest until it died. They then hauled it through the tuna door on their boat and kept the 8-foot-2-inch shark for its meat.

Original article

The article goes on to report another mature tiger shark (1,239 lbs!) being reeled in and killed in the Bahamas which is also more than unfortunate.

Other than the obvious issues with depletion of species numbers there are a couple of serious issues with these fishermans actions:

  1. Fishing for sharks with a hand spear or spear gun is illegal. The article has it right:

    According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regulations for state waters out to three miles from shore and National Marine Fisheries Service regulations for three to 200 miles from shore, spearing is a prohibited fishing method for sharks. Federal regulations state that “rod and reel and handline are the only fishing gears that may be used by recreational anglers.

  2. The claim that the shark was kept for it's meat is extremely implausible, an animal this size would not be good for much except for it's trophy value.
  3. As experienced divers the staff of SFMI know that a claim of self defense against a tiger shark is rediculous. They are certainly predatory fish but an experienced waterman can well manage their advances, and the iunexperienced would be better advised to exit the water rather than ellicit a defencive reponse.

Shark-Free Marinas would like to help stop acts like this by making it impermissible for sharks such as these to be brought back to the dock. Neither of these sharks would have been fit for food value, and neither now have the chance to contribute to an already dwindling population of animals.

We will be pursuing this story to find out if the appropriate authorities are aware of these violations and have taken action in course.

Follow up on the Delrey Beach shark fishing ordinance, from Sean Paxton

on Friday, 24 July 2009. Posted in SFMI News

This message was sent to us by Sean Paxton in reference to the recent Delrey Beach Shark fishing ordinance hearings. Sean and his Brother Brooks spoke out for anglers rights to use the ocean responsibly. The brothers are well known for their passion for sharks and desire to promote their protection.

I'd like to express my sincere appreciation and respect for everyone that showed up last night to represent and defend the rights of citizens and land-based anglers of every definition in the great state of Florida. We'll get a list of names for all who attended and post it soon. In the meantime, thanks to each and every one of you. My brother Brooks and I made the round trip from the west coast and were proud to be there. Getting home around 5:30am has us a little behind schedule, and we'll get into more detail soon. For now, I will declare this a victory on several levels that all started with the strategically collaborative efforts put out over the past two weeks by a task force consisting of: Zach Miller, Tom Argue, Herbert Muller, Pat Dirindin, Brooks Paxton II and myself. We meticulously armed ourselves with facts and a credible position that ultimately resulted in an on-the-spot amendment to the ordinance that can only be considered a compromise in our favor.

After 90 full minutes of spirited debate, the ordinance was passed, but was emphatically done so in the interests of public safety.  The extremist environmental group's biased and baseless argument was largely dismissed by city officials. The Sun-Sentinel article published is not entirely accurate, as the ordinance does now allow cut bait, and does not prevent land-based anglers from exercising their right to use municipal beaches for the purposes of recreational fishing. There are no defined limits, as to when fishing can be done or what kind, type or size of rod or reel can be used. The spirit of the ordinance prohibits the intent to catch a certain species, while acknowledging there is no way to know what might pick up the sharp end of an angler's line. With cases like this, it's rare for either side to get everything they want and compromise is the typical outcome. Such is the case, here. Is it perfect? I don't think either side would say yes, but we have to value it as something to learn from and build upon. In the end, there was a stated, and now documented, respect for angler's rights and acknowledgment of the pervasive, environmentally sound stewardship ethic practiced and promoted within our sport, that includes, but is not limited to catch & release shark fishing. In many ways, this ordinance aids in educating the public about the many good things we were already doing. Let's carry that distinction forward with class and dignity and pride, while refusing to get down in the dirt with anyone that doesn't respect or practice those same qualities.

Once Again - My Sincere Appreciation and Respect For Everyone Who Contributed to This Important Effort,
Sean Paxton

Matava organises Fiji to be the first COUNTRY to fully participate in the Shark Free Marina Initiative

on Thursday, 23 July 2009. Posted in SFMI News

Matava - Fiji's Premier Eco Adventure Resort and Bite Me Gamefishing Charters take the leading role in the world with a major shark conservation initiative in the gamefishing community.

KADAVU, FIJI ISLANDS - 14 July 2009 - Matava - Fiji's Premier Eco-Adventure Resort and Bite Me Gamefishing Charters are proud to take a world wide leading role in the the international Shark-Free Marina Initiative.

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.

Matava Director Stuart Gow said

We have worked hard over the past few months in Fiji at certifying many marinas and charter fishing boats as 'Shark-Free Marinas' and so far have more than any other country worldwide.

Matava and Bite Me Gamefishing Charters was the first in Fiji to sign up and is actively promoting, coordinating and distributing information about the Initiative. We are working towards when Fiji can be the first country to be proud to announce itself as a 'Shark-Free Marinas' Country!" he continued.

The majority of shark species caught by recreational and sport anglers are currently listed by the IUCN as 'Threatened' (or worse) and each year an average of a ½ Million of these sharks are killed in the United States alone. It is estimated that 70-100 million sharks are killed yearly world wide!

Bite Me Gamefishing Charters actively avoids fishing for any species of shark and encourages this practice to be followed by all.  By encouraging non-lethal 'catch-and-release' shark fishing fishermen and those sharks inevitably caught accidentally can enjoy their sport while ensuring that shark populations are not further diminished. By promoting sustainable practices of ocean management we hope that sharks will be around to keep our oceans healthy for generations to come.

Many Fiji marinas and charter operations are already listed on the Shark-Free Marina website as well as having the right to use the SFMI logo and signs for their own publicity. We are now in the process of distributing the stickers, posters and metal dock signs to registered businesses, charter boats and marinas.

The SFMI website also has an education centre that we hope everyone will find useful, it includes tips on how to catch and release shark, a list of Endangered and Threatened species plus information on how they can help protect the ocean.

"At Matava, and Bite Me Gamefishing Charters we are of course both happy and proud to be spearheading this initiative in the South Pacific and indeed the World" said Matava Director and Bite Me Gamefishing Charter Captain, Captain Adrian Watt.

"We also see this as a great step forward and opportunity for all gamefishing and sportfishing charter boats, both on Kadavu and in the Fiji Islands, to move forward in their standards to achieve truly world class levels of service and capabilities demonstrated by the 'catch and release' programs."

Captain Watt finished by saying "We would like to thank all friends and clients of Matava and  Bite Me Gamefishing Charters past and present who have contributed to the success of our ecotouirsm principles and the resort and we look forward to exciting times ahead."
The Shark-Free Marina Initiative has a singular purpose, to reduce worldwide shark mortality. We encourage shark conservation at sport fishing and resort marinas by prohibiting the landing of any shark at the participating marina. The SFMI works with marinas, fishermen and like minded non-profit groups to form community conscious policy and increase awareness of the need to protect our sharks, our ocean and our legacy.

Matava - Fiji's Premier Eco Adventure Resort, is an eco adventure getaway offering you a fun and unique blend of cultural experiences and adventure activities in the environmentally pristine and remote island of Kadavu in the Fiji Islands. Matava - Fiji Premier Eco Adventure Resort is a PADI Dive Resort as well as a Project AWARE GoEco Operator. With more than 12 years experience in the Fiji Islands, Matava is recognized as a leading educational dive centre. Matava offers accommodation for up to 22 guests in lush tropical surroundings in traditional thatched Fijian 'bures' with hardwood polished floors, louvre windows and private decks offering privacy, comfort and superb ocean views.

Bite-Me Gamefishing Charters is our on-site IGFA game fishing specialists offering the best of superb record breaking blue water game fishing for tuna, wahoo, sailfish and marlin. As an active member of IGFA and The Billfish Association we advocate tag and release of all billfish and Trevally not deemed to be a National or World Record.

www.Matava.com     www.GamefishingFiji.com

Shark-Free Marinas in Fiji!

on Friday, 17 July 2009. Posted in SFMI News

Huge kudos to Stuart and Adrian of Matava!

Fiji's Premier Eco Adventure Resort and Bite Me Gamefishing Charters have partnered in spearheading the nation-wide roll-out of The Shark-Free Marinas Initiative to all marinas and charter fishing boats across the country. It's a great undertaking: smart, cheap, effective - Conservation bootstrapping at its very best.
A first push directed at their peers in the game fishing community has already resulted in the certification of nine proudly Fijian Shark-Free marinas and operators - more than in the USA and the Bahamas combined!

Now, it's the turn of the other Supporters of the Fiji Shark Conservation and Awareness Project, Fiji's contribution to the International Year of the Shark - and of you, the Fijian readers of this blog!

Whether you are a Dive Operator, a Resort, an Org promoting Conservation or just an individual: please get active in your area and Fiji-wide. Do you own or operate out of a marina or harbor? Are there any marinas, fishing charter operators, or avid fishermen in your area?

Then, please approach them and help them getting certified as Shark-Free Marinas and Operators!
Should you have any questions about how to go about it, please consult the information and support pages on the SFMI website where you will also find the downloadable "Invitation to register as a Shark-Free Marina". Please also consult Matava's exhaustive explanations right here. Finally, always feel free to write to Eroni Rasalato, the coordinator of the FSCAP at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for any further assistance you may require.
Want to contribute more or get personal recognition for your efforts? Please consult this page!

Registering online is really very easy and absolutely free of charge.

Apart from being a direct and tangible contribution to the immediate conservation of Sharks in Fiji, this will help making a better Fiji by once again contributing to the Country's reputation of being at the forefront of Conservation and Eco-Tourism. It will also allow the registered participants to add valuable "green" credentials to their marketing. Dock signs and other support materials are currently being sourced and will be "in country" shortly.

Let's go for it and make Fiji proud!
Vinaka!

Original post here

'The Shark Brothers' join Shark-Free Marinas

on Friday, 10 July 2009. Posted in SFMI News

Sean Paxton
Brooks Paxton
Sean & Brooks Paxton
'The Shark Brothers'

Sean Paxton and Brooks Paxton II, also known as 'The Shark Brothers' have joined the team at SFMI as media representatives and policy advisers.

Their hands-on experience with some of nature’s deadliest and most threatened wildlife, and a lifetime spent traveling the world as musicians in the entertainment industry, led to their media nickname, ‘The Shark Brothers’. It's one they've gladly adopted and when asked, 'Why sharks'? Their response is swift. 'For us, it all started when we saw the movie, JAWS, as little kids. Our initial fear soon turned to a complete fascination and respect for these animals and their marine habitats, and that changed everything for us'.

Now, as dedicated divers, explorers, volunteer researchers and accomplished big game anglers, they specialize in leveraging their entertainment background to shine a dedicated spotlight on these formidable, but fragile apex predators. The brothers are firm believers that 'When executed effectively, entertainment can be used as a powerful education and motivational tool. If our efforts can provoke and inspire people to truly enjoy, value and respect the planet's natural resources, then they'll feel compelled to join in efforts to protect them.'

As known specialists in research tagging and other resource management efforts, they're also credited with perfecting live-animal documentation procedures that led to the launch of 'The International Land-Based Shark Fishing Association', founded by them in 2006. It's the first and only organization to officially certify and maintain world-records for released sharks. Capitalizing on this success, they were instrumental in pioneering ILSFA-sanctioned catch & release shark fishing tournaments that promote a synergy of ethical angling practices, research and conservation efforts within this century-old, extreme angling sport.

Currently, they're part of a development team established to revolutionize the mainstream shark fishing tournament industry from the more traditional harvest format to one that capitalizes on the exciting CPR (or catch, photograph and release) shark hunting of the future. Fellow team members include respected members of the tournament promotion and scientific research communities that share a vision of competitive and profitable events that are entertaining, interactive and educational shark-infested, multi-media spectacles. To learn more, you can visit: www.AdventureAndWildlife.com and www.LandBasedSharkFishing.com.

We are glad to have them as part of the team.

SHARK-FREE MARINAS IN FIJI

on Wednesday, 08 July 2009. Posted in SFMI News

Matava would like to invite you to be a Shark-Free Marina and Fishing Boat

Kadavu, Fiji Islands - June 25, 2009 - 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.

The majority of shark species caught by recreational and sport anglers are currently listed by the IUCN as 'Threatened' (or worse) and each year an average of a ½ Million of these sharks are killed in the United States alone.

By encouraging non-lethal 'catch-and-release' shark fishing your patrons and clients can enjoy their sport while ensuring that shark populations are not further diminished. By promoting sustainable practices of ocean management we hope that sharks will be around to keep our oceans healthy for generations to come.

Currently we are working in Fiji at certifying all marinas and charter fishing boats as 'Shark-Free Marinas'. Matava and Bite Me Gamefishing Charters was the first in Fiji to sign up and has agreed to promote, coordinate and distribute information about the Initiative. We hope that Fiji can be the first country to be proud to announce itself as a 'Shark-Free Marinas' Country!

Even if your facility is not frequented by shark fishermen, becoming a Shark-Free Marina is a valuable 'green' stamp and a promotional tool for your business.

You will receive a listing on the Shark-Free Marina website as well as the right to use the SFMI logo and signs for your own publicity. We are currently working on importing the stickers, posters and metal dock signs into Fiji for distribution to registered businesses, charter boats and marinas.

The SFMI website also has an education centre that we hope your clients will find useful, it includes tips on how to catch and release shark, a list of Endangered and Threatened species plus information on how they can help protect the ocean.

Neither Matava or SFMI is asking for your money, just your participation in saving the many valuable species of sharks in our local Fiji waters.

Please take the time to visit the SFMI website to find out more about how you can contribute to the future survival of our sharks while ensuring your business continues to thrive.

REGISTER HERE!

If I can be of any further assistance or help, just drop me a line.

Sincerely,
Stuart Gow
Fiji Regional Associate
Shark-Free Marina Initiative

Matava - Fiji's Premier Eco Adventure Resort
Bite Me Gamefishing Charters

Simple Registration
This is a simple and free process that ensures your patrons and customers know your business cares about the worldwide problem of shark over-fishing and that your marina or charter fishing boat will not contribute to the problem.

To register simply:
Register online at www.sharkfreemarinas.com
Display a 'Shark-Free Marina' sign on the marina premises or on the charter boat.

About Shark-Free Marina Initiative
The Shark-Free Marina Initiative has a singular purpose, to reduce worldwide shark mortality. We encourage shark conservation at sport fishing and resort marinas by prohibiting the landing of any shark at the participating marina. The SFMI works with marinas, fishermen and like minded non-profit groups to form community conscious policy and increase awareness of the need to protect our sharks, our ocean and our legacy.

About Matava - Fiji's Premier Eco Adventure Resort
Matava is the genuine eco-adventure lodge, beautifully set off the beaten track, minutes from the Great Astrolabe Reef on Kadavu Island. Our intimate resort has beautiful, comfortable bures, outstanding cuisine and offers a full range of adventure and cultural activities. Dive or take a course with our PADI dive professionals. Experience fantastic fish, pristine corals, Mantas and sharks. Try big game fishing, snorkeling, sailing, sea kayaking, trekking, and join in authentic cultural and village events! No roads, solar power, low carbon footprint make Matava the ideal and environmentally responsible location to relax and unwind.

About Bite Me Gamefishing Charters
Superb blue water game fishing for wahoo, sailfish and marlin with Bite Me Gamefishing Charters awaits you at Matava in Kadavu, Fiji Islands.As an active member of IGFA and The Billfish Association we also advocate tag and release of all billfish not deemed to be a National or World Record

Shark-Free Marina Initiative Launches in Cape Cod

on Wednesday, 08 July 2009. Posted in SFMI News

We are very excited to announce that our first Marina in Cape Cod has been registered! The Harwich Port Boat Yard has a rich maritime history and SFMI is glad to have their support. A special thanks must go to Kate Metzler who took it upon herself to speak on behalf of SFMI, encouraging the marina to register, she even donated the signs that are now being sent to Cape Cod!

Thanks a lot Kate
- Luke Tipple, Director of SFMI

A little about the Marina:
Harwich Port Boat Yard is at beautiful Wychmere Harbor on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. This man-made harbor was once a horse race track, then cars were raced around once the advent of automobiles came about. Now, dredged (by hand in 1887) and channeled to accommodate boats to 65 feet, it provides access to Nantucket Sound and the islands of Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and Monomoy. Harwich Port Boat Yard began in 1932 as the Lee Ship building Company and then sold to Watt Small who began Harwich Port Boat Works. In 1977, Arthur Cote purchased the property and ran it until November of 2004, when John Our bought the business, changed the name, and has since worked hard to place his mark in Harwich maritime history. Our facilities improvements include a new bulkhead, a new boat ramp that can accommodate boats up to 45 ft., a new fuel system with capacities of 8,000 gallons of diesel and 4,000 gallons of gas. We have purchased a newer fork lift with negative lift capacity for smaller haul outs and some drysailing. We have 19 slips and seasonal moorings as well as transient slips and moorings when available. In the early spring of 2007 we installed a security camera system so our customers know their investment is being protected.

Please take the time to visit their site and drop in if you're in the area
www.harwichportboatyard.com

SFMI interview with Ocean Reef

on Wednesday, 24 June 2009. Posted in SFMI News

In 2008, Shark Divers and Luke Tipple joined forces and developed the Shark-Free Marina Initiative (SFMI).  Marine biologist, shark diver and acting Director of the SFMI, Luke Tipple, has long been an advocate of this idea and has helped it to become a reality.
Luke was kind enough to provide OCEAN REEF with the following information about the SFMI:

The purpose of Shark Free Marinas:
The Shark-Free Marina Initiative has a singular purpose, to reduce worldwide shark mortality. We encourage shark conservation at sport fishing and resort marinas by prohibiting the landing of any shark at the participating marina. The SFMI works with marinas, fishermen and likeminded non-profit groups to form community conscious policy and increase awareness of the need to protect our sharks, our ocean and our legacy.

Our outreach and methods:

  • The website supplies all information necessary to the public, marinas and fishermen on the need to promote catch-and-release over ‘mortal take’ shark fishing. This includes a learning center which in the future will contain everything from species information to instructional videos on how to catch and release shark.
  • We are fighting the culture of ‘mature shark harvest’ so often pushed by fishing groups. The main problem is they target the mature and often pregnant sharks as they weigh more, this means a greater record for the fishermen.
  • The numbers of shark we stand to save are in excess of ½ a million in the USA alone. A mere dent on the 60-70 million worldwide but the knock-on effect (particularly politically) of a shark-free America will stand an incredible chance of making international change a reality.
  • By working with rather than against the fishermen we steer this culture in a new direction, one that serves to develop stewards of the ocean.
  • We are currently recruiting members of the public as Regional Ambassadors, allowing them to receive credit for signing up marinas in their area.
  • Every marina that signs up receives the Shark-Free marina signage and stamp of approval to use on their websites and promotion.

Why the diving community is important:
Divers are passionate and knowledgeable supporters of conservation but they are seldom asked to do anything except perhaps donate to an organization, we give them something to do. We encourage rational conservation, which accepts everyone’s right to use the ocean as their culture and sporting tastes suit. What we fight against is ecologically unsafe practices such as overfishing of sharks past their sustainable catch rate.

  • The diving community can help out by speaking to their marinas and dive operations, encouraging them to register as Shark-Free Marinas.
  • Just as the no-smoking sign is now an acceptable part of every public place, we want to see the SFMI sign on every marina, regardless of the level of fishing activity. What we are talking about is social change, and that comes from the entire community being involved.

We encourage every diver, fisherman and ocean enthusiast to pay attention to what is happening in our own backyards, it’s way too easy to say the real problem is overseas and Asian countries when all the same shark meat and products is sold in every grocery store, and shark fishing competitions selectively target threatened species for shock value.

Podcast: Luke Tipple speaks SFMI with the "Capt. Mel Show."

on Saturday, 20 June 2009. Posted in SFMI News

Luke Tipple, Director of SFMI, is interviewed on the The Captain Mel Show, Saturday Jun 20th.
[audio:http://www.sharkfreemarinas.com/Video/capmel.mp3]

From the Captain Mel Website
Along with a full open hour a 6 AM -- and the next two hours our special guests include Mote Marine's shark expert Dr. Bob Hueter and -- Luke Tipple, Director of the Shark-Free Marina Initiative - plus lots of your phone calls - 6 to 9 AM every Saturday on Florida's most popular radio fishing program -- The 970-WFLA "Capt. Mel Show." Call in - Listen in!

You can listen in by following this link

Captain Mel has been promoting Shark Conservation and catch and release for almost 20 years, here's what he has to say on the issue

SFMI to guest on the 970-WFLA "Capt. Mel Show."

on Friday, 19 June 2009. Posted in SFMI News

We are pleased to announce that Luke Tipple, Director of SFMI, will be interviewed on the The Captain Mel Show, Saturday Jun 20th.

From the Captain Mel Website
Along with a full open hour a 6 AM -- and the next two hours our special guests include Mote Marine's shark expert Dr. Bob Hueter and -- Luke Tipple, Director of the Shark-Free Marina Initiative - plus lots of your phone calls - 6 to 9 AM every Saturday on Florida's most popular radio fishing program -- The 970-WFLA "Capt. Mel Show." Call in - Listen in!

You can listen in by following this link

Captain Mel has been promoting Shark Conservation and catch and release for almost 20 years, here's what he has to say on the issue:

Catch & Release: What a Concept!
By CAPT. MEL BERMAN, 970-WFLA

You would think that me, “a reformed meat fisherman” would take these things in stride – go with the flow. But I gotta tell you – seeing a beautiful, hapless big tiger shark dragged in dead off the New England coast a few years back by a group of guys hoping to win a prize-- really turned me off. And to compound the matter, many of the “no-nothing about fish and fishing” TV media hailed these men as “conquering heroes”

”Wow, that was some catch,” mused one lame TV interviewer. “How big was that baby.” “1100 pounds” said one of the anglers. The sad part is that a magnificent animal was killed – and those guys were six minutes late. So they didn’t even cash in on their ill begotten spoils.

I know, I know. Many reading this could be thinking “what a shark hugger!” But the more I see the destruction of some of nature’s most impressive creatures for such mundane reasons, the more I realize that kill tournaments have to go the way of the horse-drawn carriage and Hula Hoops. It’s just plain sad.

As a 40-year resident of the Sunshine Sate, I can recall the common sight of massive sharks, tarpon, amberjack and other leviathans of the deep hung unceremoniously to rot in the sun. Even then I felt twinges of anguish of the fate of these creatures.

Many of these great denizens of the sea had their lives terminated because of the proliferation of so-called kill tournaments throughout the state at that time.

These days, most of us have concluded that there is no valid reason for kill tournaments – especially since we have such great new tools like digital cameras and other new age devices for recording and reporting one’s catch.

This great concept was pioneered several years ago by Capt. Richard Seward and his colleagues of the Tampa Bay CCA Chapter. These days, catch and photo release contests are the norm with the great majority of tournaments and organizations<

In the more than 20 years that I have been hosting my 970-WFLA radio show, it’s been an inspiration to see the trend -- “Catch and release.” That’s the mantra of many, if not most Florida sportfishers. Basically, these folks want to make sure that their “fishing partners” – the fish -- are happy, healthy and multiply.

Does this mean that I think we shouldn’t take an occasional fillet or two – or even three home for dinner? Absolutely not. I personally enjoy a nice fillet or two on frequent occasion. Yet, is it my job to feed the neighborhood? Do I need the “gee-whiz” experience of laying out dozens of dead fish on the dock? Why would you?

Fish are most attractive and fun when they are alive and vibrant. So why not take a quick picture -- and put that critter back so it can rejoin its kinfolk in the deep.

And please, take the time to learn how to best release all target species so that they survive the experience.

Experts recommend that it’s best to leave the fish in the water and use some kind of needle nose pliers or release device to let them go. And if you must lift a fish out of the water to pose for a picture, remember -- that creature was designed to spend its entire life in a horizontal position. So when taking pictures, hold the fish horizontally with wet hands – avoid using a towel or rag – take you pictures and return that baby to the water as quickly as possible.

My pal “The Mad Snooker” (Capt. Dave Pomerleau) often says, “try holding your own breath for the entire time you have a fish out of the water. Then you will have some idea of how the fish feels.”

Now if only we could somehow bottle that “Florida catch and release spirit” and export it to other parts of the U. S. and the world.