By: Project AWARE Foundation
SCUBA Divers Succeed in Supporting a Stronger EU Shark Finning Ban
During European Shark Week, October 2010, , European divers voiced support for a stronger European shark finning ban by contacting their local Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Project AWARE is pleased to announce that our collective voices have been heard. Today, the European Parliament endorsed a resolution on shark finning calling on the European Commission to deliver a proposal prohibiting the removal of shark fins on-board vessels.
“The ever-increasing interest in European Shark Week (ESW) brought unprecedented opportunities for divers and shark enthusiasts to demonstrate concern about sharks”, said Suzanne Pleydell, Project AWARE Foundation Policy Director. “This year, ESW opened with a call on MEPs to focus on finning. The response and engagement from the diving community has been essential in showing the commitment of European citizens to the conservation of sharks. ”
“I would like to thank EU citizens for encouraging us to take action. It sends a powerful message to EU decision makers that these valuable yet vulnerable species must be protected,” commented Jean-Paul Besset, MEP, France, Greens/European Free Alliance.
The Written Declaration 71/2010 on shark finning achieved a majority with 423 of the 736 MEPs adding their names. The declaration, launched in September by four MEPs: Jean-Paul Besset, Chris Davies, Sirpa Pietikäinen, and Daciana Octavia Sârbu, from the ALDE, EPP-DE, Greens-EFA and S&D groups, is now adopted by the Plenary of the European Parliament. Endorsed as a Resolution of the Parliament, it will be forwarded to the European Commission, who last month launched a public consultation on options for amending the regulation, including a ban on at-sea fin removal.
Written Declarations don’t have automatic legislative effect. However, having the declaration passed will make it much easier to achieve the necessary legislative support in 2011 There will be a legislative proposal from the Commission next year that the Parliament (and council of ministers) needs to agree under the ‘co-decision’ process set up by the Lisbon treaty.
Project AWARE (a steering group member of Shark Alliance) was pleased to support MEPs in this initiative. Enforceable finning bans are one integral part of the bigger picture of shark conservation. Our battle for improved shark conservation measures around the world continues.
“Project AWARE and its community of divers can see, first hand, the consequences that come from neglecting and damaging the aquatic environment and its ecosystems, and in particular the impact of declining shark populations,” comments Suzanne Pleydell. ”Together AWARE divers and advocates can help give sharks a fighting chance.”
“Sincere thanks goes out to divers and EU Citizens around the world for making MEPs focus on shark finning over the past few months,” added Domino Albert, Project AWARE Foundation Marketing and Fundraising Coordinator.
You can find out more about shark finning and ongoing work to protect these remarkable species including the “Give Sharks a Fighting Chance” campaign at www.projectaware.org.
A Press Release From Project Aware Foundation
After months of anticipation, the winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010 were announced on 22 October at a gala awards ceremony held at the Natural History Museum, London. Once again Project AWARE supporters did us proud, with fabulous underwater shots in many categories of this renowned, worldwide showcase for the very best photography featuring natural subjects.
Leading the pack was our very own Brian Skerry, one of the patrons of Project AWARE. He was runner up in the competition’s brand new Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year award. Launched for the 2010 competition, this award is given to a portfolio of six pictures that tell a memorable and powerful story without the aid of words. His picture sequence The Most Shocking Story of All, which was shot to help raise awareness of the issues surrounding industrial fisheries – in particular, the methods used to gather fish, and the rapidly dwindling stocks.
Brian’s image, Tears of Blood, was also highly commended in the competition’s One Earth Award.
“The ocean has long been a subject of great inspiration for photographers. Now more than ever photographers from around the world have learned that they can harness the power of the lens to illuminate the impacts on marine ecosystems to help restore the health and abundance of our oceans” comments Suzanne Pleydell, Project AWARE Director.
The Big Four, an inspiring shot of a large group of sperm whales off the Caribbean island of Dominica taken by Tony Wu, was named winner of the competition’s Underwater World category, sponsored by Project AWARE. This category celebrates the memorable behaviour and aesthetic appeal of marine or freshwater species captured under the water. Tony now lives in Japan.
Jordi Chias Pujol from Spain won the One Earth Award with his moving shot entitled Turtle in Trouble, encapsulating the damage being done to the world’s oceans.
Selected from tens of thousands of entries from across the globe, these images were judged to be the best of all those entered in the 2010 competition by a judging panel that included some of the world’s most respected nature photographers and wildlife experts.
These images will join more than 100 other prize-winning photographs from the competition’s 18 categories in a visually stunning and inspiring exhibition that debuts at the Natural History Museum on 22 October 2010. It will tour nationally and internationally after its launch in London.
Now in its 46th year, the competition is owned by the Natural History Museum and BBC WildlifeMagazine and is sponsored by Veolia Environnement. It is an international leader in the artistic representation of the natural world and a competition that photographers worldwide aspire to win.
Photographers can enter next year’s competition online from 12 January to 18 March 2011. For further details about the competition and its various categories, or to enter online, visitwww.nhm.ac.uk/wildphoto
On 1st November 2010, PADI Dive Centre, Yellow Submarine Divers in Phuket Thailand will launch the “Donate As You Dive” campaign. Five percent of all profits at the centre will be donated to Project AWARE Foundation, a nonprofit environmental organization working with divers to protect underwater environments.
Commenting on the campaign, Jon Roberts, Manager of Yellow Submarine Divers said,“Diving in the 21st Century relies on a more and more on increasingly fragile marine environments. Scuba divers more than others are looking for further ways to put something back and help preserve and protect the seas they care so much about. Donate as You Dive is our way of putting something back. We aim to raise over AU$3,000 for Project AWARE by November 2012.”
Joanne Marston, Asia Pacific Manager, Project AWARE Foundation commented, “We are proud to be working with Yellow Submarine Divers. To pledge five percent of all profits from a business to a conservation organisation is fantastic. We’re truly grateful for their innovation and leadership. 100 percent of their donation will help protect irreplaceable underwater environments.”
After 21 years of activating dive volunteers and dive centres to protect underwater environments, Project AWARE prepares to re-launch in 2011 with a new organizational vision, mission and strategies for the future.
“We’re currently preparing to re-launch our long-standing organization, with new strategies to take supporters efforts to a whole new level. And we’re excited to work alongside dive centres like Yellow Submarine Divers, that fuel this critical cause,” says Marston.
Added Roberts, “We hope that all dive centres start to implement similar steps to support Project AWARE and are as proud as we are to display the ‘Donate as You Dive’ Sign. Plus the divers absolutely love it too!”
Dive centres interested in supporting Project AWARE through similar schemes can contact[email protected]
Take action with Project AWARE Foundation and support ocean protection efforts worldwide at www.projectaware.org
A Report by Australia’s Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies has claimed that Coral reefs is Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean are being wiped out by the worst bleaching event to hit the area in more than a decade – READ THE FULL STORY HERE and HERE
When scuba divers surfaced from 800 dive sites around the world this International Cleanup Day, 25 September, people took notice. Volunteer divers hauled up tonnes of debris from underwater environments including tires, shopping carts, electronics and countless cigarette butts and plastic containers.
“About 80 percent of the rubbish we collected was plastic,” said Suzy Phipps, Project AWARE Cleanup Organizer from Utila Dive Center. “One volunteer owns a small snack bar where they use disposable plastic cups, plates and cutlery. After joining this cleanup, the volunteer vowed to find alternatives for his bar.”
Borneo Divers, Borneo, Malaysia used International Cleanup Day as an opportunity to launch its “Say No to Plastic Bottles” campaign. The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Yang Berhormat Datuk Masidi, officially opened International Cleanup Day and announced a ban on all plastic bottles on the islands.
Project AWARE Foundation, leading underwater cleanup events worldwide for 17 years, continues to tabulate data collected from global site organizers this September. “The difference is really in the data,” states Jenny Miller Garmendia, Executive Director, Project AWARE Foundation. “Removing debris from underwater environments is an amazing first step. But to really attack debris issues at the source, we need to understand where the debris comes from and how it ends up in the ocean. That’s what dive volunteers are helping us do – collect data that will help prevent debris over the long-term.”
In 2009, more than 30,000 AWARE Divers and volunteers from 92 countries documented and removed harmful litter surfacing with more than 91,000 plastic bottles and nearly 79,000 plastic bags. Derelict fishing gear such as abandoned traps, nets and fishing line are also of increasing concern due to the extensive damage they cause to underwater habitats.
“The highlight of the day was freeing more than 100 trevally that were caught in an abandoned fish trap. We also removed a big fishing net and freed snappers and crab,” commented Marita Fassbender from Easy Divers, Koh Samui, Thailand.
The pinnacle cleanup event of the year, International Cleanup Day, is held each September in partnership with the Ocean Conservancy. But underwater cleanup efforts don’t just end in September. Project AWARE and dedicated dive volunteers tackle the devastating impacts of marine debris year round.
“International Cleanup Day, organized each September, is a very visual way to highlight a very serious and persistent marine debris issue,” states Jenny Miller Garmendia, Executive Director, Project AWARE Foundation. “But AWARE divers are also committed to the cause year-round with many of them conducting local underwater cleanups multiple times each year.”
After 21 years of activating dive volunteers to protect underwater environments, Project AWARE prepares to re-launch in 2011 with a new organizational vision, mission and strategies for the future. “We’re currently preparing to re-launch our long-standing organization, with new strategies to take these marine debris efforts to a whole new level. And we’re excited to work alongside these dedicated volunteers that fuel this critical cause,” says Garmendia.
Take action with Project AWARE Foundation and support ocean protection efforts worldwide at www.projectaware.org.
Do you ever dream of diving in a tropical paradise? Then Oceans 5 on Gili Air is the place to be…
Oceans 5, located on Gili Air, Indonesia, offers the full range of PADI dive courses from beginner to professional level. Oceans 5 is a 5 star PADI Dive Resort. Of the three Gili Islands just off the coast of Lombok, Gili Air is located closest to Lombok and is known for its tranquil atmosphere.
Gili Air means “Water Island”, which refers to the lush vegetation on the island. White sandy beaches, no motorized transport (the only transport on the island is by horse cart or bike), friendly local villagers, a good variety of restaurants and accommodation ranging from basic homestays to luxury private villas make Gili Air a serene place for a relaxing, yet adventurous holiday.
Oceans 5 offers diving for everyone!
Oceans 5 is situated in the harbor and has 24h access to more than 20 different dive sites around the islands. Oceans 5’ house reef is located right in front of the dive shop, all the other dive sites are only a short boat ride away. Multilingual instructors can teach you in Dutch, English, German, French and Italian.
Project AWARE together with members of the Shark Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 conservation, scientific and recreational organisations dedicated to conserving sharks, is marking the start of the fourth annual European Shark Week (9 – 17 October) by calling on Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to help strengthen the European Union’s ban on finning—the wasteful practice of slicing off a shark’s fins and discarding the carcass at sea.
“The ever-increasing interest in European Shark Week is bringing unprecedented opportunities for divers and shark enthusiasts to raise awareness and demonstrate concern about sharks”, said Suzanne Pleydell, Project AWARE Foundation Policy Director. “This year, European citizens are calling on their MEPs to ‘focus on finning’ and help prevent this incredibly wasteful practice”.
The European Union contains some of the largest shark fishing nations in the world, yet its finning ban is the weakest, with loopholes that seriously hamper enforcement, making it possible for fishermen to fin an estimated two out of three sharks without detection or penalty.
The simplest, most effective way to implement a finning ban is to require that sharks be brought into port – with their fins “naturally attached.” In the European Parliament, concerned MEPs are gathering support from their colleagues for a Written Declaration that calls on the European Commission to include such a requirement in its forthcoming proposal for a revised regulation.
Over the coming week, aquariums, dive groups and conservation organisations in the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Malta, Spain, France, Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Poland, the Netherlands, Ireland and Portugal, will join forces and host events and activities to encourage more MEPs to sign the Written Declaration.
Sharks and related rays are particularly vulnerable to overfishing because they generally grow slowly, mature late and produce few young. Most European populations of sharks and rays are overfished; a third are already threatened with extinction.
“Project AWARE and its community of divers can see, first hand, the consequences that come from neglecting and damaging the aquatic environment and its ecosystems, and in particular the impact of declining shark populations”, comments Suzanne Pleydell.
For more information about European Shark Week, which runs Saturday, October 9 through Saturday, October 16, visit www.projectaware.org/europeansharkweek2010/
Have you ever considered diving in Lebanese waters.
Here’s an interesting article on Diving in the Lebanon from The Daily Star (Lebanon)
Members of the European Parliament launch call to close the loopholes in EU Ban on shark “finning”
Project AWARE warmly welcomes the initiative launched on 20th September 2010 by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to press for strengthening the EU ban on shark finning – the wasteful practice of slicing off a shark’s fins and discarding the often still alive, shark at sea.
Although the current EU finning regulation prohibits the removal of shark fins at sea, the ban is among the weakest in the world with loopholes that seriously hamper enforcement. A derogation allows EU Member States to provide fishermen with special permits to ‘process’ sharks – to remove its fins on-board vessels.
Requiring that sharks are landing whole with their fins naturally attached is the simplest, most effective way to implement a finning ban. Four MEPs from the ALDE, EPP-DE, Greens-EFA and S&D groups of the European Parliament- Chris Davies from the UK, Sirpa Pietikäinen from Finland, Daciana Octavia Sârbu from Romania, and Jean-Paul Besset from France – today launched a “Written Declaration” inviting all MEPs to join in calling on the Commission to deliver a proposal to completely prohibit the removal of shark fins on-board vessels and provide much needed protection for these vulnerable species.
“For too many European fisheries, the EU ban on finning is the only measure in place that helps curb excessive killing of sharks. The ban must be strengthened to ensure that this incredibly wasteful practice is prevented” explained Chris Davies MEP.
“France has long supported strong bans on shark finning, in European waters as well as in our overseas territories,” said Jean-Paul Besset MEP “French fishermen are already leaving the fins attached to sharks caught in oceans all over the world, demonstrating that this strategy is entirely feasible. We cannot wait any longer to enforce robust protection for these important predators, which are so key to the balance of life in the sea.” “All EU Member States have a responsibility to ensure that EU policies are sound and set a good example for other countries,” added Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP “It is inexcusable that the current EU finning regulation is one of the weakest in the world. It is high time that the EU heeded the overwhelming scientific consensus that sharks should be landed with fins naturally attached.”
“Despite the adoption of a Community Plan of Action for Sharks, and a request from the Council for prompt implementation, the Commission’s progress in fulfilling pledges to strengthen the shark finning ban has been slow,” said Daciana Octavia Sârbu MEP. “We are hopeful that the written declaration will help to raise the priority of this important endeavor and that the Commission will heed our call to send us a proposal for completely ending at-sea shark fin removal by the second anniversary of the EU Shark Plan in February 2011.
” The Shark Alliance, of which Project AWARE is a steering group member, is a coalition of more than 100 conservation, scientific and recreational organisations dedicated to restoring and conserving shark populations by improving shark conservation policies. Project AWARE Foundation, a registered nonprofit organization, works in direct partnership with divers and water enthusiasts to conserve underwater environments through education, advocacy and action. To get involved in environmental activities and make a lasting difference visit www.projectaware.org
For further press information or images, please contact: Joanne Marston, +61-2-9454-2891 [email protected]
Soccer and Sweat for Underwater Conservation
What do you get when you have six of Bali’s top dive centres, a football pitch and some competitive spirit? Over $6,000 raised for underwater conservation – that’s what!
On 9th September, Bali Crystal Divers, Puri Wirata Dive Resort, Blue Season Bali, Divemasters, Bali Hai Diving Adventures and Atlantis International all swapped their diving fins for football boots in the first ever 5 A-Side Soccer Tournament for Project AWARE Foundation. Each dive centre submitted a team and, based on a point system, progressed through to each round of the competition.
Andrew Sutherland, Bali Hai Diving said, “Apart from the fact Bali Hai didn’t win, the whole thing was fantastic. We made the semi finals where we lost to a strong team from Bali Crystal Divers. The crowd was on their feet on both pitches for the full 2 hours. There was even an emergency nurse duo diving massages to the injured players!”
The Grand Final took place between Bali Crystal Divers and Puri Wirata Dive Resort with Puri Wirata winning the game 3 goals to 2. Puri Wirata’s Manager, Birger Finaut said, “We are really glad to have won the tournament. Our local guides were especially very proud as they knew we were by far the smallest dive centre competing. I’m very glad we could take the trophy home. It now has a very prominent spot in our dive centre.”
The centres also donated over $3,000 worth of prizes which were auctioned off at an evening event at Stiff Chilli. $1000 worth of prizes was generously donated by Vimal Lekhraj from DiveMasters.
Tom West from Blue Season Bali ran the Auction show and got the crowd spending big especially when it came to auctioning off some of the PADI Course Directors.
Course Directors “sold” themselves as personal slaves for half a day to the lucky bidder. Slave tasks included cooking, cleaning, tank refills – you name they had to do it (within reason!)
“The bidding for the PADI Course Directors Slave Auction got really competitive. One Course Director went for 6.4 million IDR!”, said Tony Andrews, PADI Regional Manger.
Winning team captain, Finaut from Puri Wirata said, “I would like to thank all the dive centres involved for joining, competing and creating a hopefully yearly event with maybe even more support and success in the future.”
Added Andrews, “The ocean needs our help. We aimed to raise $2,000 but tripled that figure! Bali’s dive centres have shown that with the right passionate and determination we can do anything. On behalf of Project AWARE and PADI, Thank you Bali.”
To host your own fundraising event or Soccer Tournament contact Joanne Marston at [email protected]
Project AWARE Foundation, a registered nonprofit organization, works in direct partnership with divers and water enthusiasts to conserve underwater environments through education, advocacy and action. To get involved in environmental activities and make a lasting difference visit www.projectaware.org