Tuesday, February 1, 2022

E.U. Citizens' Initiative to Protect Sharks: Final Count.

For the past two years, the Stop Finning - EU Organization has been collection signatures of support for the EU Citizens' Initiative to strengthen the EU's shark Finning laws.  The support period has now closed and here are now the final results.

As most of you know, in my last update of the 13th. January I stated that only seven countries had reached their quota target and only 542000 out of the 1,000000 signatures have been collected. 

I am glad to report that in the last two weeks, there has been a huge response and the final results read as follows:

17 countries have reached their quota: Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Croatia, Finland, Denmark, Ireland, Greece, Czechia, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain.
A total of 1,202,122 signatures collected.

 Austria 229.63%

Belgium 119.52% 

Bulgaria 15.78% 

Croatia 117.26% 

Cyprus 20.15% 

Czechia 106.67% 

Denmark 113.83% 

Estonia 34.58% 

Finland 114.05% 

France 592.08%

Germany 685.31%

Greece 112.61% 

Hungary 152.09%

Ireland 112.67% 

Italy 128.94% 

Latvia 16.78% 

Lithuania 11.95% 

Luxembourg 104.97% 

Malta 113.32%

Netherlands 124.33% 

Poland 21.71% 

Portugal 149.17%

Romania 15.55% 

Slovakia 82.05% 

Slovenia 57.51% 

Spain 151.04%

Sweden 64.75% 

I want to thank each and everyone that signed up, for their support and look forward to next step... the presentation of this initiative to the EU. 

My thanks also goes to Nils Kluger and Alexander Hendrik Cornelissen who initiated this campaign.

Thank you.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Update on the E.U. Citizens' Initiative to Protect Sharks.

In January of 2020, The Stop Finning - EU Organization initiated the EU Citizens' Initiative to strengthen the EU's shark Finning laws. 

Although the removal of fins on board of EU vessels and in EU waters is prohibited and sharks must be landed with their fins naturally attached, the EU is among the biggest exporters of fins and a major transit hub for the global fin trade. EU is a major player in the exploitation of sharks and as inspections at sea are scarce fins are still illegally retained, transhipped, or landed in EU. 

The aim is to end the trade of fins in the EU including the import, export and transit of fins other than if naturally attached to the animal’s body. As finning prevents effective shark conservation measures, the organization is requesting to extend REGULATION (EU) No 605/2013 also to the trade of fins and therefore ask the commission to develop a new regulation, extending “fins naturally attached” to all trading of sharks and rays in the EU. 

To be successful, the EU Citizens' Initiative needs reach the following targets:
i) To collect a total of One Million signatures of support from EU member states.
ii) At least Seven (7) countries must reach a threshold of signatures equal to 1% of its population. 

The seven country target has been reached but so far, only 542000 out of the 1,000000 signatures have been collected and the closing date in the end of this month.
Whilst Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Portugal and Spain have reached and passed their threshold, these 20 other nations are still below the target.

Belgium 70.76% 
Bulgaria 10.32% 
Croatia 54.64% 
Cyprus 13.16% 
Czechia 49.46% 
Denmark 52.01% 
Estonia 26.79% 
Finland 46.76% 
Greece 52.77% 
Ireland 72.7% 
Italy 87.02% 
Latvia 7.01% 
Lithuania 8% 
Luxembourg 43.92% 
Netherlands 83.6% 
Poland 13.02% 
Romania 11.61% 
Slovakia 50.78% 
Slovenia 47.27% 
Sweden 39.83% 

 We are in the final stretch so please do your best to spread the word and get your friends to support this great cause.


Thank you.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Malta reaches threshold for EU Citizen's Initiative.


On behalf of Sharkman's World, I want to say a big thanks to everyone who has supported and signed our Stopfinning EU Citizen's Initiative. With a targeted threshold of 4506 signatures, Malta has now obtained a total of 4561 signatures. We are the fourth EU nation to reach our goal. France, Portugal and Germany are the other 3 countries that have reached their quota. Thank You.

For those that have not yet signed, you still have the chance to do so. The more names the better our voices will be heard. If you already signed, pass this on to your European friends so that we can help other countries to reach their target.

Sharks need us to protect them👍🦈


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.