What is the Project AWARE Finathon?
Why are we swimming to stop shark fining? Why has Liquid Dive Dumaguete and Atmosphere Resorts along with ONE International School signed up for the Project AWARE Finathon Event with the Instructor Development Philippines team?
It’s about responsibility, ours and yours.
For many years the general public has had a negative image of sharks. The only time they are front page news is when a surfer or swimmer has had a nasty encounter with one and either died as a result or survived to tell their gruesome story! The media makes out that sharks are all man eating scary monsters that prey on humans and like nothing better than to chomp down on a leg of a surfer or passing swimmer! This view unfortunately creates a careless attitude towards the plight of sharks.
Realistically the media’s portrayal of sharks could not be further from the truth! Sharks are Apex Predators at the top of the food chain in all oceans and play a vital role in maintaining the balance of the ocean ecosystem, more so than any other fish. Sharks have been swimming in our oceans since before dinosaurs were walking the land, in other words way before us little homo-sapiens joined the fray. They have been keeping the ocean populations in check for millions of years.
Over the years sharks have evolved into efficient predators, preying on the old, sick or slower fish in a population leaving the healthier fish to survive and populate. All ecosystems are fragile and need to be protected and managed and surprisingly good old Mother Nature came up with a great way of keeping the status quo! She introduced predator and prey! All animals are a predator of some kind, whether it is a cat chasing a mouse, a lion chasing a deer or a shark chasing a fish. Each predator plays an important role in keeping certain populations to the right size; so that those species do not become over populous and threaten the balance.
The East Coast of the USA is a perfect example of what happens when the balance is destroyed. For over 100 years this region has had a booming scallop industry. Cow nose rays are one of the biggest predators of scallops and sharks are a predator to the ray. When the shark population was over fished the cow nose ray population exploded. With no predators to maintain the balance the rays could happily eat all the scallops they liked. This has led to the collapse of a once thriving industry, leaving many unemployed and entire towns on the verge of bankruptcy.
In Asia there is a high demand for shark fin soup; this demand is the driving factor for global shark fining. The stigma associated with eating shark fin soup has generated a nation of indifference. Financially the world wide shark fishing industry generates millions of dollars each year; however the world wide shark tourism industry generates billions of dollars each year. A single shark in Palau can generate up to $1.9 million dollars in its lifetime through shark tourism, against $108 dollars for a single fin!
As an owner of a dive resort in Asia (Liquid Dive Dumaguete) I obviously care passionately about the state of the oceans, after all without a healthy coral reef and animals to look at why would divers and snorkelers come to visit. However more importantly as a mother of 2 young children it scares me to think what will happen in the future, if we continue to decimate the world wide shark populations. What will become of the ocean environment without its apex predators?
The balance will be disrupted, populations will explode, populations will become extinct and our environment will be affected. After all, the entire ocean is what generates our way of life. Oceans hold over 97% of the earth’s water supply and produce more than half of the oxygen in our atmosphere; it is time we started to pay attention. Are we really that complacent that we will let the over fishing of sharks continue so a few people can eat a notoriously tasteless soup and a few giant industries can make even more money!!
This is the reason why we are swimming to stop shark fining.
Spread the word it is now or never for sharks.
Instructor Development Philippines together with Liquid Dive Dumaguete, Atmosphere Resorts and ONE International School gathered a grand total of $4405 in donations for their Project AWARE Finathon event.