Sharky Summer

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Contents:
- Massachusetts fin ban enacted
- New leadership
- Happy Birthday
- Shark Week

Hello fellow ocean lovers!

It's our great pleasure to share that Governor Deval Patrick signed Massachusetts' shark fin ban (H4088) into law last week (Thursday, 24 July 2014). With California, Illinois, and New York, all banning the sale, trade, possession, and distribution of shark fins, we've taken great steps to address the top three markets in the United States. Massachusetts bears a notable seafood trade as well, and Boston is no stranger to shark fins. We're happy to have something on the books there, to help raise awareness, but we'll have to admit that some of the exemptions in the bill are extremely disappointing. Sadly, hundreds of species are still allowable, including spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias), smoothhound sharks (the entire genus Mustelus), and all skates and rays (the entire superorder Batoidea).

Exemptions such as these undermine future efforts, encourage black market and underground trade, and make enforcement extremely challenging, if not impossible. We've already seen "legal fins" advertised in States that allow such exemptions.

COARE will continue working on effective policy in other places, with an emphasis on strong and well developed language. Next year's legislative session is going to be a good one for sharks and for reducing ocean-bound waste. Stay tuned!

New Leadership

We're thrilled to announce that Brenna Mahoney has joined COARE's leadership team!

When we met Brenna at the San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival years ago, we quickly found that our passions were very much aligned. Since then, she has become an invaluable volunteer, advocate, and ocean champion.

Brenna is a former Our World-Underwater Rolex Scholar, and has worked around the world in temperate, tropical, and polar waters. Her goal is to foster connections between science, conservation, and education through science communication and outreach programs, she brings valuable insight and enthusiasm to our team. We're absolutely thrilled that she's joined us in an official capacity.

Shark Week

One of the most watched and talked about series on television begins its 27th season in a few weeks. Six years ago, Shark Week was advertised as taking a different approach to help promote shark conservation, and we've been waiting a long time to see Discovery waver from their consistent maligning of sharks and nonstop efforts to instill fear in their viewers.

For these reasons, we've long had mixed feelings about Shark Week. On one hand, the sensationalized and fear inspiring segments, messages, and ideology, only cause sharks to continue to receive an undeserved reputation. On the other hand, Shark Week definitely gets people thinking about and talking about sharks, and that makes for fantastic teaching opportunities.

In fact, research has shown that on social networks people mention and discuss sharks (and the Ocean in general), more during and around Shark Week than at any other time of the year.

Two years ago, we were excited about some of the Shark Week programming, like the segment "Shark Fight", which was produced with conservation in mind. Our own Executive Director, one of the world's foremost experts in shark conservation legislation, appeared in both the U.S. and international versions of that segment, which will likely air again this year.

Even if that segment doesn't air this year, you'll certainly see some of our shark footage in other programs.

With a change in staff at Discovery, the focus on conservation was eclipsed last year by more sensationalism. Whether or not Discovery turns towards more conservation-oriented messaging this year, we encourage you to take advantage of the buzz, and insert yourself into those conversations, whether they're virtual or in-person. It's up to YOU to help set the facts straight.

Remember, you can always send people to our Shark Myths page at:
      http://coare.org/know/sharkmyths.php

We also now have a website shortcut to redirect to our "save sharks" page. This page includes information about current shark conservation efforts, how you can help, and it includes a link to the aforementioned Shark Myths page.

The URL for our new easy-to-remember shark conservation landing page is:
      http://coare.org/sharks

Happy Birthday

Our Founder and Executive Director is celebrating his birthday today, and we're using this opportunity to celebrate and look ahead to the next year.

Last year, we had some wonderful victories. We helped revamp and overhaul the effort to ban shark fins in Florida. As you know, COARE is one of the world's leading organizations for shark conservation policy, and we identified and corrected some technical shortcomings in the introduced language. If passed, those technicalities could have proven very detrimental to other campaigns around North America. We are now leading a coalition to guide future efforts in Florida.

On the plastic reduction front, we made some incredible progress in our fight against single-use plastics. In addition to increasing the number of municipalities that ban single-use plastic bags, we also helped rid New York City of expanded polystyrene (commonly called "styrofoam") foodware. We were one of the few organizations able to endure the epic 7.5 hour public hearing, and our testimony directly refuted some otherwise convincing industry claims. Some of our amendments helped sway key votes, and in the end, the NY City Council voted unanimously to support the ban.

Given the appropriate resources, we would happily turn more of our efforts and experience towards other local, Statewide, and Provincial efforts that could benefit from our guidance.

Please take advantage of his birthday wish to join our fight to reduce our consumption of single-use plastic. Check out the following link to view his personal message:
      https://www.causes.com/posts/922225

Enough with the plastic already!

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Wishing you healthy oceans,
Your friends at COARE

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