By now you’ve no doubt noticed that international shark protections (well, at least legislative shark protections) are beginning to pile-up. It can be truly said that the past few months of 2011 will go down as Summer of the Shark. On June 24, Honduras declared their waters as a permanent shark sanctuary. On July 5, The Bahamas banned all commercial shark fishing. On August 8, Chile passed a law banning the practice of shark finning. On September 6, the California Senate passed legislation that would ban the trade and sale of shark fins. And on September 7, the South Pacific island territory of Tokelau declared their waters as a shark sanctuary.
With an ambition to join-in on this rally, Fiji’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is now considering shark conservation measures that would ban the commercial fishing of sharks and the trade of shark and shark parts, including shark fins. The government has the support of yours truly here at the Coral Reef Alliance and The Pew Environment Group.
For a taste of what’s to come, check out the teaser above for a new documentary, Shark Hope, that explores the challenges facing Fiji’s sharks and the local community-based efforts to protect them. Think South Pacific version of Sharkwater, only more subtitles and less skinny white guy in Speedo. The new film chronicles the importance of sharks to Fiji’s culture through myths and stories, as well as the role they play in maintaining a healthy marine environment. The film also points to their contribution to island nations’ economies as living tourist attractions.
The film features Ratu Manoa Rasigatale, a Fijian cultural icon, former senator, and now shark conservation champion. He’s the fellow with the awesome silver afro seen speaking to Fijian school children. You may also notice fellow ocean blogger and DSN pal Angelo Villagomez making his big screen debut as “indigenous Pacific Island dude reading from cue cards.” Look for the full documentary here at DSN after it premiers in a few weeks.