Help us get the financial support we need to run the next Great Fiji Shark Count!
Voting is on for the Ocean Action Project 2013 and we need your vote for The Great Fiji Shark Count! Projects will be chosen by the Project AWARE community through a voting system via Facebook.
Now we need our supporters and community cast their vote for The Great Fiji Shark Count this November.
The search is on. Project AWARE Foundation is looking for innovative and results-driven projects to address two key focus areas: tackling marine debris problems and protecting critical shark and ray species.
With increasing threats facing our ocean planet, working globally and acting locally has never been so important. To empower ocean communities to take local conservation actions to a whole new level of change, Project AWARE’s Ocean Action Project 2013 is now open for voting.
The Ocean Action Project supports local ocean conservation initiatives that bring us a step closer to a clean, healthy and abundant ocean planet.
Project AWARE Foundation is interested in supporting work that is action-oriented and strategically addresses root causes of marine debris or shark and ray protection issues. These projects should be measurable, with an approach for change.
Now we need our supporters and community cast their votes for The Great Fiji Shark Count this November.
Project AWARE is powering ocean warriors and you hold the power to put their project in motion.
Will The Great Fiji Shark Count stand up to the competition? You be the judge.
Your vote could be the difference between idea and action.
Project AWARE established the Ocean Action Project as an opportunity for ocean heroes with the courage, tenacity and leadership skills to make ocean protection a top priority in our communities. We all know there are many worthy projects that need a boost to get started – the Ocean Action Project is the support needed to put these actions in motion.
“In 2012 we launched our first wave of grassroots support to help protect sharks and rays and reduce and prevent marine debris,” said Joanne Marston, Associate Director, Project AWARE Foundation.
“Thanks to our supporters in 2012 we already have five incredible ocean actions fighting for shark and ray protection and battling the growing tide of marine debris. Now we’re on the search for our next wave of ocean action projects.”
And so, the search and voting is on for the Ocean Action Project 2013! Projects will be chosen by the Project AWARE community through a voting system via Facebook.
Over the past 5 years, the Fijian trade in shark (and ray) fins has escalated from a small, by-catch related fishery to a targeted and large scale industry. It is possible that up to 10,000 sharks per month are currently taken for this industry from Fijian and neighbouring waters. It is likely that within the next 5 – 10 years, sharks in Fijian waters will be overfished to the point of irreversible population collapse unless government can be convinced that the decline is serious and must be stopped.
For the past 2 years there has been a very active campaign to create a Fiji Shark Sanctuary. Extensive work has been done on raising public and governmental awareness of the issues, and on conducting studies to prove the economic value of living sharks to the tourism industry.
The main challenge raised by the fishing industry was the lack of data on shark populations, and the inability of the conservation advocates to prove that stocks were, in fact, in decline. In the face of this lack, the government has declined to establish a sanctuary, instead opting for a National Plan of Action for Sharks, which we fear will be too little and too late to prevent sharks and rays in the areas from being fished into a population collapse.
The data gathered by the Great Fiji Shark Count will be the first large-scale baseline of shark populations in Fijis’ coastal waters, and will continue annually, to identify patterns in loss or gain of shark numbers over time, to strengthen arguments to government, and once sanctuaries have been formed, eventually to record the efficacy of shark protection measures.
Provide hard data (unavailable by any other means) to Fiji Government Department of Fisheries on trends in shark numbers that will support claims that shark fishing is critically damaging breeding populations, and prove the necessity of providing shark protection in national legislation.
Measure the success of shark conservation strategies once in place, to assist with adaptive management of shark sanctuaries of fishing limitations.
Raise awareness of shark conservation in Fiji’s diving and tourism community and establish that the recreational diving industry can make a real contribution to scientific studies.
Our long-term goal is huge – we hope to prove that shark stocks are being depleted in Fiji, so that the shark fishing industry can no longer argue that no damage is being done, and government can finally push through shark conservation measures in Fijis’ waters. I cannot overemphasis the importance of this – our entire 2 year campaign to stop shark fishing stalled on this point. Because of this we want to be cautious and not jump the gun – our data must be totally solid before we start publishing it.
The real milestone will be that we will go to proper data analysis next year once we have done 4 – 5 counts – the data is being analysed by Christine Ward Paige of e-shark and I hope that she will be able to give us something back after the April 2014 Count.
The initial count began in April 2012, and has been conducted successfully 3 times (April and November 2012 and April 2013). We have established that the count works, that materials are suitable, and that divers and operators are enthusiastic . We are now looking for support to enable us to continue the count though 2014 and 2015.
Voting for the Ocean Action Project is open to anyone and you can only vote once. The decisions of the judges and Project AWARE Foundation are final. For further details on voting read official rules via www.projectaware.org/oceanactionproject