Save sharks!

1. Contact your local government

Support legislation banning the sale, possession, distribution, and trade of shark fins in your city, state, provence or country. The Shark Coalition has compiled a list of international, multi-national and country-specific shark policies through 2010. Check and see what types of protective measures exist, and what your country is doing.

Find out who your local representative(s) is/are and learn how to get in touch with them to voice your support for shark conservation. Government websites typically provide contact information for constituents to voice their opinion on existing, proposed or potential legislation.

 

2. Support international efforts to monitor, regulate and protect shark populations

Many shark species are highly migratory, crossing between national jurisdictions. Support measures at multinational bodies like the United Nations Food and Agriculture Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and Convention on Migratory Species that safeguard shark populations. Many non-profit organizations circulate petitions in support of various protective measures before or during the meetings.

 

3. Refuse to eat shark fin soup or eat at restaurants that serve shark fin soup.

The popularity of shark fin soup incentivizes the practice of shark finning. Help reduce the demand for shark fins by avoiding restaurants that serve shark fin soup. Check with organizations like the Animal Welfare Institute in the U.S. and StopSharkFinning in Canada that publish lists of restaurants that serve shark fin soup. If you know a particular restaurant serves shark fin soup, ask to speak with the management and share your concerns. Shark Savers provides several brochures in both english and chinese as educational material and potential talking points.

 

4. Don’t purchase products made from sharks.

Many products derived from sharks, including teeth, liver oil, skin, meat, cartilage, live specimens and others can be obtained unsustainably or illegally. Consumer demand for shark products incentives the continued harvest of shark products around the world that places a significant strain on wild populations. Reduce the market for these items by refusing to purchase shark products.

Shark meat is particularly dangerous because it contains high levels of mercury. Mercury is a neurotoxin than can cause serious health effects, including developmental and cognitive deficiencies. Women who are or may become pregnant, nursing women and children are particularly susceptible to mercury exposure and should avoid eating shark meat. Visit KidSafe Seafood for more information on the effects of seafood contaminants and healthy options for children.

 

5. Eat sustainable seafood

Millions of sharks are caught every year as bycatch, the unintended capture of non-target species. Longlines, trawls and gillnets can be particularly destructive fishing methods that inadvertently entangle sharks, turtles and seabirds, among other species. Read more about this serious threat from Shark Alliance. Consult seafood guides to make sure the fish you eat is not environmentally destructive.

U.S.: Monterey Bay Seafood Watch
International: World Wildlife Fund Seafood Guides

 

6. Support organizations that are working on shark issues

Both government and non governmental organizations around the world are working to promote awareness and science based policy solutions. Support their efforts by volunteering, singing petitions or donating to their cause. Grassroots campaigns are often the most effective means of disseminating information to the public and generating market based behavioral change. Check out these conservation groups for more information on local, national and international campaigns:

 

7. Educate yourself

Learn the facts-knowledge is power! Read about the current state of the science and policy efforts. Learn the arguments from either side of the debate to better inform yourself and gain a more holistic perspective of the challenges and solutions. Check the Resources section for information on ways to keep up with the latest shark news, science and policy.

 

8. Spread the word

Build a network of support for shark conservation by sharing your knowledge of the threats facing shark populations and what can be done to help save sharks with friends and family. Encourage others to adopt sustainable practices and get involved in shark conservation efforts.