Saturday, September 11, 2021

The Sharkman meets Greg Nowell

 A single person can make a huge difference when he (or she) decides to dedicate his/her time to achieve a target. This target could have amazing results not only for personal satisfaction but also on a larger scale. This is the story of one such person.

It was back in 2007 that I first met Greg Nowell, when he came to live here in Malta. We had exchanged a few emails before our meeting, and as always I was looking forward to meet another Shark lover. 

Over a few beers, Greg and I talked about our passion and how he would like to contribute towards Shark Conservation. Little did I know that this was the first step towards a brighter future not only for the local shark scene but also internationally.

Since then, Greg and I became close friends and we have worked together on several conservation issues, both locally and also overseas. So, it gives me great pleasure to share with you this Greg Nowell interview.

Monday, August 2, 2021

An amazing woman's incredible lifelong journey into the world of Sharks.

As a very young teen in 1970, I saw Valerie Taylor, her late husband Ron and fellow Australian Rodney Fox for the first time, in the classic documentary "Blue Water, White Death." I was already hooked to the beauty of the underwater world, but it was here that these 3 inspired my love for Sharks and I followed in their footsteps with my lifelong fight to protect these magnificent creatures.

In the new epic documentary Playing With Sharks, Valerie takes us on an amazing journey into her own teen years as a spearfishing champion, her romance with the sea and also with Ron, who made her his underwater model and later his wife. We see the couple embarking on an expedition that changed their lives forever. From spearfishing champions, they soon became world famous for their filming and production of underwater documentaries.

The Taylors travelled around the world filming sharks and educating the general public about the huge misconception that these awesome creatures are mindless killing machines in a time when sharks were labelled as Man-eaters following the release of "Jaws". They became protectors and defenders of our oceans and the creatures that live in it.

Their hard work soon started giving rewards as Australia became the first country in the world to protect the Grey Nurse Shark (Carcharias taurus). This was later followed by conservation measures for: the Potato Cod (Grouper) and Cod hole, The Sea lions, the Coral Sea bird breeding islands, the main breeding grounds of the Southern Right Whales becoming a marine reserve and also protection of the Great White Shark.

This amazing woman's incredible lifelong journey is not over yet as Valerie, now 85, and following Ron's death in 2012, is still involved in conservation issues and still dives to spend time surrounded by and Playing With Sharks.

Thank you Valerie for showing me, and the world, the truth about these magnificent and misunderstood creatures.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Conservation Measures Give Positive Results.

Over the years that I have been involved in Shark conservation, I always insisted that no matter how small the measures achieved, they do leave positive results. Some might say that protecting a shark species in one area, does nothing as that shark might easily be caught some place else. Whilst that could be true, it also adds to the urgency to protect endangered species in as many places as possible.

Since the discovery of the Megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) was made in Hawaii in 1976, I have been keeping records of all known specimens caught or encountered around the world. This is not an easy task as I know that not all catches get to be reported especially those from the Asian continent.... but thank God, things are changing.

Up until I write this, the list of known Megamouths stands at 246. Of these, only 28 sharks survived the encounter and swam happily away. The other 218 ended up either consumed, buried or put on display is some museum. You can find my full list here.

The country with the highest number of Megamouth catches is Taiwan. They are responsible for 152 catches out of which, only 4 were released alive. That is a shocking 61% of all known specimens. It was for this reason that EAST(Environment & Animal Society of Taiwan) last year launched a campaign to protect the Megamouth Shark. They also joined forces with fisheries to promote the catch and release initiative to facilitate the tagging of megamouth sharks for scientific research, with support from the Carrefour Foundation.

This campaign also got the support of other international entities, including Sharkman's World, that wrote to the Taiwanese government backing EAST's requests for stringent regulations to protect these endangered sharks.

Finally on November 10th. 2020, the Taiwanese authorities enacted laws that totally protect the Megamouth Shark. The restrictions require that all Megamouths caught in Taiwanese waters are to be returned to the sea, regardless of whether or not they are alive when caught. Fishing operators must report any catches to authorities on returning to port.

This conservation measure had positive results when two days ago, a Hualien-registered vessel caught a shark in their gill nets whilst fishing 2.77 nautical miles off the coast. The boat captain immediately ordered his crew to release the shark as soon as possible. The operation to untangle the shark lasted around 90 minutes and finally the estimated 4m female megamouth shark was set free. A crew member managed to film the release.

After being informed of the news, Carrefour Foundation CEO Marilyn Su pledged to donate a NT $5,000 voucher to the captain of the vessel as a reward for their actions. Deputy Chief Executive Yu-Min Chen donated several cases of drinks to the fishermen to celebrate the release, praising the crew for their conservation efforts.

My thanks to EAST for the translation of the reports. Great work from all those involved.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

The Sharkman meets Andrej Gajić

Ever since I have been involved with Sharks and Shark Conservation, I have been fortunate to have met and worked alongside quite a few researchers, photographers, conservationists and shark lovers. Most of the "famous" ones belong to my age group or older, but I am also glad to see a younger generation coming up. One such person is a young man from Bosnia & Herzegovina who I call my "Shark BrotherAndrej Gajić. 

I first met Andrej back in 2009 in Brussels, Belgium. We formed part of the Shark Alliance and we were campaigning for better shark conservation regulations at EU level. Since then, Andrej has come a long way in establishing himself as one of today's top Shark researchers, scientist, author, explorer and conservationist. He has even been in inducted into the National Geographic "Explorers Club". It gives me great pleasure to share with you this amazing interview I made with Andrej Gajić. 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

The Sharkman meets Cristina Zenato

Those that know me know how strong and how deep my love for Sharks and Scuba diving is. It is not easy to find someone that can truly understand how I felt on every dive and even more, on every encounter, and I do not mean just Sharks! Of course, Sharks make it extra special but every marine creature I encounter has something special to offer.

Ok I do not want to be diverted, so to get back on track... I have found that one person who can truly understand me, because she feels exactly the same way I do! ever since I first heard about her and saw her on a video clip filmed by a friend of mine, I could feel that same connection between her and her underwater world. The more I got to know her, the more I could see the similarities in our passion. 

She is  the one and only Cristina Zenato. 

Now it gives me great please to share an awesome interview I had with Cristina a few weeks ago. If you want to learn more about this amazing woman and her "babies".... just click on this link: Meet Cristina Zenato 

Thank you Cristina. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

European Citizens Must Unite To Stop Finning!

 Back in 2007 a group of NGOs from all over Europe got together under the banner of The Shark Alliance and started talks with the EU fisheries commission to close all the loopholes in the 2003 shark finning ban regulations. That year, The Shark Alliance presented over 20,000 signatures to the EU Commission asking for better regulations. 

In 2008, we continued to campaign for better Shark regulations and a total stop to shark finning. We also presented over 100,000 signatures to the EU commission.

In 2009 the EU Fisheries Commissioner released the "Plan of Action for Sharks". This was the first sign that the EU was listening to what the people wanted.

In 2010, the proposal for the ending of all finning at sea was made and this was endorsed by the Council of Ministers.

In 2011, Shark Alliance members meet and proposed the "Fins Naturally Attached - With No Exceptions" campaign.

In Spring of 2012 Parliament’s Environment Committee endorsed the proposal but Fisheries committee had some opposition. The debates were lengthy but finally, in November 2012, the European Parliament voted 566 to 47 in favour of ensuring that all sharks are landed fins naturally attached without exception. The amendments we supported were passed and those we opposed were soundly defeated. The road to victory was a hard one, but at the end, after 6 long years, we did it!

As it stands now, since 2012, the so-called “Fins Naturally Attached” regulation of the European Union prohibits without exception the storage, transhipment and landing of all shark fins in EU waters and on all EU ships. The fins must remain naturally attached to the carcass when the ship is unloaded in port. The fins can then be separated from the animal and exported to Asia.

It is now time to take further action. As of 2012, EU citizens have had the right to apply directly to the European Commission.  The Stop Finning EU Organization has initiated the European Citizens’ Initiative in order to propose a concrete legislative amendment, a total ban on the shark finning trade! To do this, your support is needed. If you are a European citizen, click here and vote now


Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Sharkman meets Ila France Porcher.

She is an extraordinary woman of many talents. She is an Ethologist,  a wildlife artist, an author, a Shark Behaviour Specialist Advisor and a shark conservationist to name just a few. She is Ila France Porcher.

You can read about Ila in the interview that I had with her by following this link: The Sharkman meets Ila France Porcher.