(DiverWire) April 22 is Earth Day. This year, the Project AWARE Foundation and its community of scuba divers are pulling out all the stops for sharks during the Big Shark Shout Out - a shark month of action aimed at protecting sharks from overexploitation – overfishing, finning and bycatch.
This Earth Day and throughout April, Project AWARE and divers worldwide call on local communities to rally support for the protection of the world’s most vulnerable shark species by signing and organizing petition signatures to protect heavily traded species. Big Shark Shout Out events will span the global and include shark petition rallies, education events and seminars.
Nearly 100,000 concerned divers and shark advocates have already signed their support for Project AWARE’s shark petition. But additional support is needed to ensure the voices of global shark advocates are heard.
“AWARE divers worldwide are anxious to support shark protection,” says Suzanne Pleydell, Project AWARE Director. “And it’s essential that we continue focusing our support on shark protection measures that have teeth and result in measurable change.”
Project AWARE’s petition campaign targets the power of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to help protect threatened sharks with the next meeting to take place in Thailand, March 2013.
While CITES has helped to save a myriad of terrestrial species, the effort to add sharks and marine fish to CITES is still relatively new ground and has resulted in difficult battles. Although the tide is turning, and basking, whale and great white sharks were added in the last decade, there is still often vigorous opposition to the listing of commercially valuable fish under CITES.
Project AWARE is working on using the power of CITES to secure listing for some of the shark species most deserving of CITES protections including: hammerheads, oceanic whitetip, spiny dogfish and porbeagle sharks. We’re also aiming for consideration of sharks’ close relatives such as the heavily traded manta and devil rays.
Time is running out for sharks! Public support for shark conservation is crucial to balance short-term interests and ensure that strong and enforceable shark conservation measures are implemented.
Find out more about the Big Shark Shout Out and Project AWARE’s shark protection campaign at www.projectaware.org.