Guy Harvey Film, Research Inspires North Vancouver Mayor to Support Shark Fin Ban

October 15, 2012

NOTE: The following article appears courtesy of Huffington Post Canada.

A wave of bylaws banning the possession, trade, sale and distribution of shark fin products has swept across the province of British Columbia this past month. North Vancouver joined Port Moody and Coquitlam in introducing a ban on shark fin soup in restaurants, a popular Asian dish that supports a vast industry that is decimating shark populations worldwide and threatens many species with extinction.

Interestingly, Artists for Conservation played an important role in this policy change. Last year the mayor of the city of North Vancouver, Darrell Mussatto, attended the first annual Artists for Conservation Festival on Grouse Mountain. It was there where he first met legendary marine artist Dr. Guy Harvey, a leading advocate for the shark-fin ban, and founder of the Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI).

Dr. Harvey’s documentary “This is Your Ocean: Sharks” premiered at the festival last November and Mayor Mussatto had the opportunity to speak to Dr. Harvey about his efforts to save sharks from extinction through his film. That encounter inspired him to support a shark fin ban in his city last month.

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IGFA Praises Passing of Billfish Conservation Act

October 8, 2012

NOTE: The IGFA released the following statement in response to President Obama signing of the Billfish Conservation Act:

Today, President Obama signed the the Billfish Conservation Act into law, effectively banning the importation of all billfish into the continental United States. The signing marks the culmination of a united undertaking by a diverse coalition of angling and conservation organizations working in cooperation with a bipartisan group of congressional champions. Although there are no commercial fisheries targeting billfish in the US, the US has been the largest importer of billfish in the world, importing about 30,000 billfish annually.

“This is a tremendous success for these highly migratory species,” National Coalition for Marine Conservation President (NCMC) Ken Hinman said. “Marlin, sailfish, and spearfish do not know country boundaries and travel through three of the planet’s oceans. Giving them greater protection in the United States sets the stage for better protection worldwide.”

With the largest buyer out of the market, the NCMC and the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), who championed the bill, will now turn their attention to the international challenges facing these imperiled species. And with populations of three species of marlin having declined by more than 50%, their efforts come not a moment too soon.

“Recreational anglers and ocean conservationists have been the primary supporters behind the Billfish Conservation Act,” IGFA President Rob Kramer commented, “and I am confident that with this strong step by the United States, we will be able to raise support for more robust measures elsewhere.”

The support of the Billfish Conservation Act by groups like the American Sportfishing Association, the Center for Coastal Conservation, the Coastal Conservation Association, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Keep America Fishing, the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association, OCEARCH and numerous partners in the environmental community played an integral part in the bill’s success.

“We have sound science that indicates that billfish are not doing well on a global level,” IGFA Conservation Director Jason Schratwieser added. “Better international protection for these fish benefits open ocean ecosystems and recreational anglers around the world.”


Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Symposium Announced for September 14-15 in St. Pete Beach, FL

August 21, 2012

Health of Gulf Seafood, Fishery Analysis and Habitat Restoration on Agenda

ST. PETE BEACH, FL—AUGUST 20, 2012— Two years after the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon oil well was finally capped, the largest gathering of scientists, fishery experts and government officials are gathering in St. Pete Beach to share the findings of their research, and to offer direction for further study.

The Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Symposium, on Sept. 14-15, is the first summit to bring together the various stakeholders in the Gulf’s fishery, an annual multi-billion-dollar industry for Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

The oil gusher and the clear environmental damage in 2010 captivated international attention and raised doubts about the safety of eating Gulf of Mexico seafood. It also raised concerns about short- and long-term damage to fish stocks.  Research to be presented at the symposium will begin to definitively address these issues.

The symposium will also present the results of research funded by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation‘s 2010 “Save Our Gulf” campaign, which raised $500,000 to fund gulf fisheries research related to the oil spill. It will bring together representatives from all sectors of the marine world – recreational and commercial fishermen, non-governmental and governmental agencies, politicians, fishing authorities and marine scientists – to explore vital issues facing the Gulf through presentations and panel discussions. More than 200 are expected to attend and participate.

The recommendations offered by the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Symposium will also involve requesting funding from the $20 billion trust established by BP to respond to claims from individuals, businesses and government entities.

Headliners appearing at the symposium are Dr. Bill Hogarth, director of the Florida Institute of Oceanography and a former Assistant Administrator for Fisheries at NOAA, and Dr. Guy Harvey, celebrated artist, fisheries scientist and conservationist. The symposium’s line-up includes Eric Schwaab, Acting Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Management, Gil McRae, Director, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI), Donald Kent, President of the Hubbs-Seaworld Institute, Dr. Bob Hueter from Mote Marine Laboratory, Dr. Mahmood Shivji, Director of the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University.

The ultimate mission of the symposium is to provide a platform where all stakeholder groups can share knowledge and move forward with a unified mission of a sustainable and healthy fishery in the Gulf of Mexico.

For a final agenda and listing of speakers and panelists, please go to www.gulffisheriessymposium.com.

The symposium will be held at the TradeWinds Islands Resort on St. Pete Beach.  The Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Symposium is sponsored by NOAA, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the University of South Florida, the Florida Institute of Oceanography, Mote Marine Laboratory, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and Guy Harvey Magazine.


GoFISHn.com: “Guy Harvey Fights Back Against Attacks Over Killing Fish”

August 10, 2012

NOTE: The following editorial was originally posted to the popular fishing blog, “GoFISHn.com“:

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past decade, you’ve probably heard of Guy Harvey. His paintings, tee-shirts and artwork representing our favorite marine species are almost unavoidable. Some people, though, it appears view him as a hypocrite, catching and killing the very species that provide the inspiration for his life’s work.

Harvey responded passionately to such accusations recently, defining himself as a passionate angler and conservationist both, which we all aspire to be. On his website, he definitively stated his position, and his passion:

“Please know that first and foremost I am a life-long angler who loves nothing more than spending a day on the water in pursuit of big fish. It’s my passion and my profession, and I live it practically every day of the year. I am also a dedicated conservationist – I believe that we must fish responsibly and ensure the health of fish stocks throughout the world.”

Would-be accusers of the marine artist might note that he has, over the years, contributed vast sums of money to conservation-based groups that work to preserve and protect our beloved sport. He has been a vocal supporter of shark conservation, in particular, and practicing catch-and-release while fishing for the ocean’s voracious predators. But, he came under some heat after his daughter caught a notable, record swordfish, and a picture surfaced of her next to the fish hanging from the docks.

There aren’t many recreational fishermen out there who haven’t kept a fish or two- Rick Bach


Guy Harvey Donates To Scholarship Awards

August 6, 2012

The Sportfishing Conservancy announced today that world-renowned gamefish artist, angler and conservationist Guy Harvey has donated $4,000 through his Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation to sponsor the four scholarship awards that will culminate the summer-long 2012 Sanctuary Classic online fishing photo contest.  As such, when these four $1,000 scholarships are presented to the parents or guardians of children under 18 following the event’s Labor Day conclusion, they will be named the Guy Harvey Sanctuary Classic Scholarship Awards.

Harvey himself will be among the judges, choosing from among all the photos submitted through the event’s website (www.sanctuaryclassic.org) four photos that best exemplify the following themes:  Kids Fishing, Kids and Family Fishing Values, Kids in the Sanctuaries, Kids in the Outdoors and Kids Conservation.  All photos of kids entered over the summer-long run of the Sanctuary Classic will be considered for these special awards, as well as for the weekly awards.

“On behalf of all partner organizations who have made this unique event possible, we are extremely grateful to Guy Harvey for his generous support and participation as a judge,” said Tom Raftican, president of The Sportfishing Conservancy.  “We’re proud to name these special awards after him.  Guy’s worldwide reputation as a marine artist, sport fisherman and conservationist makes him an ideal representative for the Sanctuary Classic.  At its heart, this event is about encouraging families to get out and fish and develop a new appreciation for our national marine sanctuaries — and Guy’s involvement will certainly help us achieve these goals,” Raftican added.

The 2012 Sanctuary Classic was created by the Sportfishing Conservancy in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and several other national organizations, with the goal of getting more families and youth outdoors to enjoy the abundant recreational fishing opportunities in our nation’s national marine sanctuaries.   This free online fishing/photo contest began with a kick-off event on two coasts June 9 and continues through September 3.

The Classic promotes conservation-focused recreational fishing opportunities in all of our nation’s marine sanctuaries, while highlighting four in particular: the Florida Keys, Channel Islands (Calif.), Monterey Bay (Calif.) and Gray’s Reef (Ga.) National Marine Sanctuaries.  In addition to encouraging angling participation, the Classic provides anglers with information about the unique habitats in each of these locations and encourages the adoption of best recreational fishing practices.  Participants angling in any marine sanctuary are eligible to submit photos of their catches via the tournament web site and winners will be selected each week.

Weekly winners (based on website votes) will receive $100 gift certificates, with the four scholarship award winners to be judged from all entries.   The use of photo submissions — rather than fish brought back to the dock — helps encourage and promote catch-and-release fishing during the tournament, a key technique to preserve marine life in the sanctuaries.

The National Marine Sanctuary System spans over 150,000 square miles of ocean and Great Lakes waters from the Hawaiian Islands to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa. While the sanctuary program’s primary mission is to protect the nation’s critical marine ecosystems, 98 percent of all sanctuary waters are open to activities including recreational fishing, diving, surfing and swimming.

Additional support for the Classic is being provided by national and local partners including the National Marine Sanctuaries Foundation, which provided initial funding though the Ernest F. Hollings Ocean Awareness Trust Fund and West Marine.


An Open Letter from Guy Harvey

August 3, 2012

Fellow anglers, divers and boaters,

It has come to my attention that that there is some concern, particularly among anglers in the northeast US, about my allegiance to the sport fishing community. Please know that first and foremost I am a life-long angler who loves nothing more than spending a day on the water in pursuit of big fish. It’s my passion and my profession, and I live it practically every day of the year. I am also a dedicated conservationist – I believe that we must fish responsibly and ensure the health of fish stocks throughout the world.

In an effort to broaden the message of responsible fishing, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) has supported, collaborated and partnered with many organizations over the past four years, including the Shark Free Marina Initiative (SFMI). Sharks are in serious trouble in the US and around the world. However, I am not advocating for a ban on all shark fishing. My position has always been for all anglers to take a responsible, conservation-minded approach to sharks – before you legally harvest a shark, simply consider what you are doing and why you are doing it.

The shark free/friendly concept was initiated to educate and make people aware of the severe pressures being put upon sharks populations around the globe. In the past several years, we have seen many shark tournaments – particularly in Florida – go to an all-release format, which makes for responsible fishing since most of the species of sharks caught in tournaments are traditionally not good table fare.

In contrast, the iconic mako shark is considered fair game in the northeast US, as are tunas and swordfish above federal size limits. Catch and release shark tournaments in this area with high minimum qualifying weights are well organized and have shark conservation measures at heart, as do the partial release billfish tournaments in the mid-Atlantic, which I have proudly supported for over two decades.

In addition, in the US and around the world there are areas of local abundance of species where anglers can legally harvest these species in a sustainable way, even though elsewhere in the world that species may be considered rare or overexploited. This practice is fine with me. I am all about sustainability in sport fishing and commercial fishing, as well as in spearfishing and diving. However, there are many anglers who are not concerned about sustainability and that is cause for concern.

Much of the recent criticism directed my way has stemmed from the role of the Humane Society of the US (HSUS) within the SFMI organization, and alleged ties to PETA and the PEW Environment Group (PEG). I have difficulty in accommodating the role of the HSUS in the sport fishing arena. Other than encouraging catch and release where possible, I see no reason for this organization to exert any influence in sport fishing. I have an even stronger opinion of PETA, which is just too extreme to even get my attention.

As for Pew, I am not aligned with them personally, nor have I supported them during my 20-year tenure as a board member of the IGFA. The one instance in which I worked alongside PEG was in a successful effort to prevent the archipelago of the Bahamas – which was home to the last bastion of sharks in the western Atlantic – from being scoured of sharks by impending commercial interests. The GHOF’s collaborative effort with PEG and the Bahamas National Trust worked, and it prevented the wholesale slaughter of species by people who don’t give a damn.

I also support shark interactive programs and have patronized many such programs in different countries. These interactions with otherwise shy, elusive creatures are inspiring, educational and very entertaining – all without killing a single animal. In addition, the socio-economic value of these interactive sites is immense to the host countries. Only days ago, I returned from a shoot in Isla Mujeres, Mexico where for 60 days each summer thousands of whale sharks gather to feed on plankton blooms and fish spawn. This interaction pumps millions of dollars into the Mexican economy each summer. If this phenomenon occurred in the Orient, then I am certain the harpoon boats would be racing the snorkelers to the sites every day.

Another issue I have difficulty accepting is proposed MPAs based on nothing other than whims of people who want to get rid of sport fishing. These proposed areas, which are closed to sport fishing, typically do not go through a scientific analysis to tell us all about the inventory of species or the estimated biomass from which a regulated harvest could be managed. However, specific time and area closures for certain species at certain times of year do work well. It is ludicrous to allow any harvest of any animal when it is reproducing, so closure of reef fish (snapper and grouper) spawning aggregations during their respective spawning times is a good management practice, as we have seen in the Bahamas and Cayman Islands.

There are many issues facing recreational anglers and many of us have conflicting opinions on how to apply solutions that best benefit the fisheries. Not everyone is going to agree with me on every issue. However, please don’t underestimate my dedication and commitment to the sport fishing community – along with AFTCO, I put back approximately 10 percent of all royalties generated by my art into fishery research and educational programs around the world.

I want to remind my fan base – as well as all of the naysayers – that I love fishing and I love to cook and eat the fish that I catch. I do fish responsibly – I release all billfish and undersized wahoo, tuna or dolphin that I catch. But, a nice bull dolphin, yellowfin or blackfin is going in the cooler! Swordfish are also fair game – in the tournaments we have in Cayman the small ones are released and the big ones are taken. In fact, we just landed a 600 pound plus swordfish on July 22 in Mexico. Not a scrap was wasted!

Tight lines and good luck.

Guy Harvey PhD.


Whale Shark Sucks Fish Out of Hole in Fishing Net!

July 17, 2012

Incredible video from Conservation International showing a whale shark sucking baitfish from fishermen’s nets in Cendrawasih Bay, Indonesia:

CI’s summary of the video: ” On a recent expedition to Indonesia’s Cendrawasih Bay, Conservation International’s Mark Erdmann learned how whale sharks often congregate around bagan (lift net) fishing platforms to eat the small silverside baitfish that the fishers are targeting. The sharks have also learned how to “suck” the fish out of holes in the nets!

This can be dangerous — but the local fishers like the sharks, considering them good luck, and are working to modify the net designs to prevent sharks from entering.”