Saturday, April 05, 2014

Inspired by Guam

Simon Sanchez Sharks
In 2011, students from Guam rallied to pass the world's third ban on shark fins.  They collected petitions, wrote letters, sent emails, and attended public hearings to showcase how strongly they felt about protecting sharks.  The Sharks M.A.D.E. club at Simon Sanchez High School and Marine Mania at George Washington High School were the leaders of this effort.

George Washington Geckos
Over the last three years, both schools have stayed involved in shark conservation issues.  There are two issues facing Guam sharks right now that have the students concerned.  First, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is attempting to overturn shark fin trade bans that do not exempt commercial fishermen.  All of the shark fin trade bans in the mainland either exempt all fishermen, or exempt the species of the predominant shark fisheries in the state.  Hawaii and the territories do not make exemptions for commercial fishermen (although CNMI and Guam make allowances for subsistence fishermen), so this is where the preemption fight is taking place.  The second issue has to do with a proposed shark fishery by the Western Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Council (WESPAC) which ignores the social and cultural values of the people of Guam.

I had a long layover in Guam during my recent trip to the Federated States of Micronesia, so I stopped in on both schools to hear how their campaign was going.  I also talked to them about the most recent shark science, particularly the Worm 100 million shark paper and the Dulvy "more sharks are threatened and near threatened than we thought" paper.

Angelo, Julie, Elise, and Joni
I also made a few new friends this trip.  Julie Hartup is a member of the Manta Trust and is studying the manta rays of Micronesia, in particular an aggregation that lives just outside Tumon Bay.  Joni Kerr is a professor at Guam Community College and the advisor to Eco-Warriors, the club that made this great video starring my good friend, Shark Stanley.

No comments: