Sunday, June 03, 2012

Posters for Baja!

Good stuff!

From an e-mail by Dr. José Leonardo Castillo-Geniz
Investigador Titular "C", Programa Tiburón, Centro Regional de Investigación Pesquera de Ensenada, B.C., Instituto Nacional de la Pesca (INAPESCA), carr. Tijuana-Ensenada km 97.5, El Sauzal de Rodríguez, C.P. 22760, Ensenada, B.C., México

Just to inform us about the informative campaign (posters) of the legal protection status of the white shark in Mexican Waters that is going without problems, with the support of the technical staff of the National Fisheries Institute of Mexico (INAPESCA).
I share sore photographs of it from the fishery camps of the west coast of BC.
I express my sincere thanks for the invaluable s
upport of Pam Baker EDF, Fernando Aguilar Club Cantamar, Juan Carlos Cantu of Defenders of Wildlife Mexico and my good friend Mauricio Hoyos-Padilla.

Well, better late than never!
What I suggested, rather facetiously in 2010 has now eventuated.
GW researcher Mauricio Hoyos and others are distributing posters throughout Baja in order to educate the local fishermen that Great Whites are protected and should not be targeted.

Love love love this pic! :)

All awareness is good - but will it help in this specific case?
Baja is the scene of a daily carnage of Elasmobranchs, among which GWs - but contrary to recent alarmist reports, this is not a targeted fishery for GWs, not for the fins nor for the jaws. Those GWs are mostly sub-adults, juveniles and YOYs that are being caught incidentally when generally fishing for Sharks, and even the adult GWs that have recently been reported from the Sea of Cortez have not been caught intentionally but were found drowned in nets.

If you think about it, this is only logical.
Whereas I now think that this number is suspect, Great Whites do sit very much at the top of the food pyramid and are thus rare by definition, with the global population probably only numbering somewhere in the tens of thousands - and thus, trying to establish a targeted fishery that would be trying to find them in the vastness of their global range would be commercially suicidal.
Of course this is not the whole story as recent tracking studies has revealed migratory highways and hotspots - but under the caveat that the most prominent hotspots like e.g. Guadalupe need to be strictly protected, it is never the less true that a targeted fishery makes no commercial sense whatsoever.

But if most catches are only incidental, will educating the fishermen help?
Domeier mentions a 3-month general shark fishing ban which is actually the correct measure when trying to limit incidental catches. It is likely the result of this fiasco and although it is far from being the announced moratorium, it is certainly a step in the right direction.

That is, if only it were respected and enforced!
Apparently neither is the case - and with that in mind, the poster initiative may indeed be of help insofar as it might prompt some fishermen to release at least those GWs that would be still alive.

The good news?
More and more young GWs being caught are probably an indication that the measures protecting the Sharks but also their mammalian prey are slowly having a positive effect - this not only the in the Eastern Pacific and in the Western Atlantic where sightings are on the increase, but also in Australia and South Africa.

Yes as always it is complicated! :)

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