Marinas on both coasts of the United States and around the globe are enthusiastically joining the Shark-Free Marinas Initiative (SFMI) to help conserve the world’s imperiled shark populations. Over 70 marinas have joined SFMI in the past week, pushing the total membership over the 200 mark worldwide.
Organized as a cooperative by the Pegasus Foundation, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), SFMI aims to reduce shark mortality worldwide by discouraging the landing of sharks and encouraging catch-and-release of sharks in sport fishing, while rewarding forward-thinking marinas that participate in this program. Other supporting organizations include Mote Marine Laboratory, the Pew Environment Group, Fishpond, Inc and the Fisheries Conservation Foundation.
The SFMI is a totally voluntary program that works in tandem with businesses, marinas and fishermen to increase the awareness of the need to protect our sharks and oceans. Marinas and businesses may join the program as either Shark-Free or Shark-Friendly: A Shark-Free Marina does not allow sharks to be killed and landed at its facility; a Shark-Friendly Marina discourages killing or landing of sharks and does not serve shark products or promote activities that intentionally harm sharks.
World-renowned artist, angler and conservationist, Dr. Guy Harvey, is urging marinas to join SFMI. Dr. Harvey stated: “Shark populations worldwide have suffered severe declines due to over-fishing; Marinas can now do their part to help conserve these ecologically vital animals by joining the SFMI.”
“Recreational fishing in the U.S. has contributed to the serious historical decline in shark populations,” notes Dr. Robert Hueter, senior scientist and director, Mote Marine Laboratory’s National Center for Shark Research. “Sustaining these species is in the interest of recreational anglers as well as commercial fishermen and marine conservationists.”
Shark tournaments offer anglers thousands of dollars for landing sharks, but many anglers believe that there are greater rewards from catch-and-release efforts that help to preserve shark fisheries. SFMI is supportive of catch-and-release tournaments and promotes marine businesses. When asked to comment on SFMI and its tournament policy, Doug Olander, editor-in-chief, Sport Fishing Magazine agrees that shark kill tournaments send the wrong message. “I think hanging up dead sharks in a marina is wrong, but more important, I think it is just plain stupid.”
SFMI supporter John Land LeCoq, co-founder of well known outdoor apparel and fishing equipment retailer, Fishpond, inc stresses that “Sharks are the guardians of the ocean and play an essential part in the health of the ocean. Most anglers I know are very concerned about the status of sharks. I hope every marina joins this important program. ”
Dr. John Grandy, senior vice president of The Humane Society of the United States adds, “Only with more help from recreational anglers can we erase the misinformed notion that ‘the only good shark is a dead shark.”
Dr. Harvey summarizes: “I encourage recreational fishermen everywhere to join with me and SFMI to help protect sharks and our oceans. Our world needs sharks.”