Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shark Tournaments - increasing Traction for Catch&Release Format!

Those game fishermen continue to kill Sharks.

But the tide is clearly turning.
Congratulatory reports like this one are thankfully disappearing.
Instead, the media are increasingly adopting a much more critical view by focusing on the ethical implications of those feats, or whatever and the plight of the animals that are being targeted.
This is specially apparent in the case of those horrible Shark kill tournaments.

Case in point, this article from Bermuda.
It bemoans the wanton killing of eleven Tiger Sharks (for Lobster bait?) and contains references to the Shark Free Marinas Initiative, the work of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and the Ultimate Shark Challenge. All-in-all and despite of the appalling circumstances, this is excellent pro-Shark advocacy and kudos to James Whittaker for having listened to the right people!

And then, there is this post by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
Very unfortunately, it provides a platform for once again highly problematic statements by a Shark researcher, this time by one Lisa Natanson who appears to be a habitual groupie of the East Coast's kill tournaments.

Yes, taking samples from Sharks that have already been landed by fishermen is vastly preferable to lethal sampling.
But to then go as far as to become a vocal public apologist for the kill tournament format is totally unacceptable. Will those people ever learn to just keep a low profile, do their job and keep their mouth shut?
Thankfully, other more enlightened colleagues raise their voice in dissent

While acknowledging the scientific benefits that can accrue from tournaments, Dr. Robert Hueter of the Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida nevertheless believes that the pressures on sharks are too great for tournaments to continue.
“I’m not saying that we aren’t gaining useful data from this sort of sampling,” he says. “But scientists have been taking these sorts of samples at tournaments for nearly 50 years.
It’s questionable that the research benefits gained at this point justify the cost to shark conservation.”

How many more vertebrae does Ms. Natanson need to collect before waking up to the reality that Sharks are endangered and require protection and advocacy - especially by the people who research them? Will people like her ever overcome that apparent pervasive fatal disconnect between their research and the required ethical sensibility?
Yes, what may have been OK in the past is not OK anymore - how about some adaptive evolution!

Once again, kudos to Bob Heuter for having spoken up.
Having very much been part and parcel of the Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge, he knows what he's talking about and represents the future of Shark research, as do Neil and of course Juerg!
Well said!

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