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The Shark-Free Marina Initiative

May 19, 2011
Their motto is, “Reducing worldwide shark mortality, one marina at a time.”
Here are the basics: A shark-free marina does not allow shark to be killed and landed at their facility. Through the Shark-Free Marina Initiative, businesses are able to register as shark-free and mandate that no caught shark is allowed on their docks. In some states, fishing for shark is still legal ( so the initiative also allows businesses to register as shark-friendly. A shark-friendly business asks fishermen to release caught shark, and strongly discourages international shark fishing.
Why do people kill sharks?
Shark fin soup is a traditional Chinese dish served at weddings, symbolizing wealth, power, and honor. An estimated 70 million sharks were caught and traded last year. Due to its cultural importance, the demand for shark fin soup still remains despite having significant impacts on diminishing shark populations. Hawai’i was the first state in the U.S. to ban shark fin soup, and now the Oregon House just passed a bill to ban it. Hopefully other states will follow suit?
In addition to soup shark is prepared in other ways, but soup is the main problem because fishermen will catch a shark, chop off its fins, and throw it back out to the ocean to bleed and die.
Personally, the thought of eating it makes me gag.
© Fiona Ayerst/Marine Photobank
Sharks are also being thoughtlessly murdered as bycatch in fisheries. The target species may be tuna or swordfish, but fishing methods are not species specific. Therefore sharks, dolphins, whales, seals, sea turtles, and marine birds are all caught unintentionally.
What will happen if all the sharks are gone?
Total ecosystem collapse. Sharks are a keystone species, and regulate populations of other marine animals such as stingrays and various fish. If the populations of these prey organisms grow out of control, the ecosystem becomes imbalanced.
I will attempt to explain:
No sharks/top predators –> More prey –> Prey animals eat more smaller animals (like crab/shrimp/scallops/smaller fish) –> Prey populations explode –> Prey populations eat ALL of the smaller animals –> No more shrimp or scallops for anyone (including humans) –> prey populations die –> this trend continues down the food chain until ecosystem reaches zero productivity.
I hope that made sense. Long story short, sharks and other top-predators like tuna and carnivorous whales are incredibly important to oceans worldwide.
People are beginning to learn that sharks really aren’t as dangerous as the Hollywood movies portray them to be. They’re actually more dangerous to you if you eat them: shark is known to have high levels of mercury and toxins due to biomagnification.
Watch the PSA:

Click here for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Sharks.

How can you help?
You can do your part to keep sharks on this planet by choosing smart, sustainably caught seafood. Avoid tuna or swordfish unless they were caught with a pole by a local fisherman. Ideally you want to stay away from any fish caught using gillnets, and avoid eating shrimp caught with shrimp trawls!
Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch

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