World to cool it on shark-finning, at least for five species »
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) voted this week to restrict permits on exporting the fins of five species of sharks, to end trade in all freshwater sawfish, and restrict exports of manta rays’ gill plates.
Previous Cites meetings had seen similar protection proposals for sharks rejected, but new support from Latin American and west African countries, and the promise of cash from the European Union to help change fishing practices, won the day. The decisions could be reopened for debate at the final plenary session of the summit and potentially overturned. If, not all the measures will be implemented after an 18-month period in which enforcement measures can be set up.
A little less needless human destruction of the oceans! Keep up the totally necessary and hopefully not-too-late work, Cites.
[Photo by Clifton Beard via Flickr]
Welcome to protection under California’s Endangered Species Act, great white shark! »
Great whites are the scariest sharks ever, thanks to movies and television and their natural aura of gruesome death, but of course also despite the protections we already had in place for them, commercial fishing is reckless and whoops, we’re accidentally killing them so fish-eaters can eat fish.
Great whites have been off-limits to commercial and sport fishing under California law since 1994, Reuters noted. However, the fish, particularly young ones, still wind up as “bycatch” in gill-nets intended for halibut, swordfish and white sea bass off of California and Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. Such bycatch, also known as “incidental taking,” has been unrestricted.
But now (for a month already!), thanks to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, great whites are now protected under the state Endangered Species Act. They’re not on the Endangered Species list, but this news is progress toward that end. Save the great white! Don’t let the Pacific (completely) go to hell because a bunch of jerks are hungry for fish steaks.
Tom’s vegan shark shoes are summer-perfect! And benefit shark conservation! »
Is there anything better than madras plaid shoes? Duh, no. Except maybe for madras plaid shoes that are both vegan and designed and sold to benefit the “protect[ion] of sharks and their environment.” Thanks, Toms!
Per Ecouterre, these shoes were designed in “collaboration with the University of Miami’s R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program” and “inspired by TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie’s shark-diving experience” with that program. Proceeds from the sale of each pair “go to protect sharks and their environment.” They’re not saying what percentage of the proceeds will be donated, or where the money will go, but Toms has been a trustworthy company so far, with its shoes-for-you, shoes-for-a-shoeless-child program (which is still in effect with this style, incidentally), right? So maybe you want a pair! If they had them in my size (stupid men’s sizing) I would have bought them before I even wrote this. Madras is my favorite plaid! And I am crazy about plaid.
Tom’s vegan madras plaid shark shoes, $54 online.
Meet Florence, the vegetarian shark! »
TreeHugger reports on Florence, a nurse shark living at the Birmingham National Sea Life Centre in England, who has been trying to follow a vegetarian diet. Florence here swallowed a rusty fish hook three years ago, and vets performed out-of-water surgery to remove it, and since then, she’s refused all fish.
Unfortunately, sharks cannot live on vegetables alone, even delicious, nutritious algae, so Sea Life Centre workers have to pull a Marge Simpson and hide the fish in lettuce to supplement Florence’s diet. Apparently if she even gets a whiff of fish, Florence will refuse the food and wait for the animal-free option.
Aw, Florence! We know how hard it is to feed a carnivore an animal-free diet. Maybe scientists will figure out a way to meet your nutritional needs without compromising your morals. A lady-shark can dream!
[photo from the Birmingham National Sea Life Centre via TreeHugger]
Meet the newest member of the catshark family! Its name is Bythaelurus giddingsi, and it lives in the waters off the Galapagos islands. Seven of them, including big eyes up there, now live at the Cal Academy, with other, non-Galapagos catsharks.
This little fellow is “roughly the same size as a typical housecat,” and is pretty adorable for a top-level predator whose environment is being cold ruined by fishing.
A bill proposes a shark fin ban in New York State! Also: Shark fins may have neurotoxins! Whaa? »
Sharksavers.org has lots of great info in the fight against shark finning.
On Tuesday, legislators in New York State announced a bill that, following the example of Western states, would ban the sale, trading, possession and distribution of shark fins, possibly as of 2013. California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington are enacting similar bans that were passed last year, while Florida, Illinois, Maryland and Virginia have legislation pending.
The bill in New York is sponsored in the Assembly by Alan Maisel, Linda B. Rosenthal and Grace Meng, who represents the heavily Asian district of Flushing, Queens, and is the only Asian-American in the Assembly. Identical bills are expected to be introduced in both houses of the Legislature.
Yay! Let’s keep this party going! Everybody ban shark fins! Except on sharks—those are cool.
There might be even more reason to ban shark fins, a new study says:
Researchers from University of Miami sampled fin clips from seven different species of sharks collected in South Florida coastal waters and analyzed its contents. Upon examination, they detected cyanobacterial neurotoxin BMAA (Î²-N-methylamino-L-alanine) in the fins of all species with concentrations ranging from 144 to 1836 ng/mg wet weight.
Mind you, the neurotoxin BMAA has been linked to the development of neurodegenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
The report suggests that consumption of shark fins may increase the risk for human exposure to the cyanobacterial neurotoxin BMAA. Until more is known about the possible link of BMAA to Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, it may be prudent to limit exposure of BMAA in the human diet, according to the researchers.
Shark-finning is all around grody! Go New York! Read more about the bill introduction and actions you can take on the Humane Society’s website. WildAid invites you to sign their “Say No” pledge to end shark finning. You could also spread around their super infographic—everyone loves and infographic!:
Sharks can be friends! »
A lot of times, I picture sharks as I like to picture myself: rugged, badass loners
with an unquenchable thirst for human blood who rock out pretty much constantly. But here is news that could change all that (for sharks, I mean). Turns out shark grouping patterns are more than marriages of convenience; they are stable, long-lasting, meaningful social communities! Pretty soon sharks will have Facebook pages, right? Come on into the 21st century, sharks, don’t be shy. I’ll friend you!
[Photo credit: Klaus Steifel via Flickr]
According to scientist, this is the first-ever hybrid shark, a cross between a common black-tip and an Australian black-tip. It was discovered in Australian waters and is believed to be the result of an adaption “to ensure its survival as sea temperatures change because of global warming.” Amazing!
I mean, sharks are older than dinosaurs, but they’re still around and they’re still evolving, now to cope with shitty human-caused climate change. Over 450 million years old and still kicking ass! If this doesn’t make sense, take it up with the reporters at Yahoo! News, because I am science-ignorant and just wanted to share some amazing animal news with you. Sharks rule, land vertebrates are adorably useless!
Toronto passes its shark-fin soup ban! »
In June I wrote a Vegansaurus post about a motion tabled before Toronto’s city council to ban the sale, possession, and consumption of shark fin soup in the city. I’m stoked to report that after a 38-4 city council vote yesterday, shark fin soup is now banned in Toronto. Woo!
The bylaw will take effect in September 2012; fines for the possession and use of shark-fin products will range from $5,000 to $100,000.
For a while it looked like the ban might not happen, when Mayor Rob Ford and a few other councillors argued that it was outside the city’s jurisdiction and instead a matter that lay with provincial authority. I suspect that similar bans in other cities helped make this happen.
It’s important to note, though, that another key factor in getting the ban through was the work of local activists. The Toronto Vegetarian Association did a lot to get the word out, as did groups like WildAid, United Conservationists, and Toronto Loves Sharks. Sharkwater director Rob Stewart also threw his support behind the ban and was on hand for today’s vote.
“Toronto’s action is a huge victory in the global fight against and illegal shark fin trade valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Rob Sinclair, WildAid’s executive director.
Goes to show that groups of local people really can create change! I’m happy to live in Toronto today.
[photo by hunxue-er via Flickr]