Sea Shepherd Brazil on April 1st launched a campaign to defend sharks in South America's largest country. The "Shark Defense Campaign" aims to educate the public about these animals' importance and fragility as well as punishing companies that have caused grave damage to shark populations in Brazil. Annually more than 100 million sharks are killed, which has caused the decimation of 90% of shark's worldwide population. In Brazil, where 88 shark species exist, 43% are listed as endangered - by some government predictions, at this current pace, many of these species will be extinct in less than ten years. The Brazilian campaign is an extension of Sea Shepherd's international efforts to protect sharks and in combating the practice of shark finning.
"Finning is decimating shark populations all over the world. The animal is captured and its fins cut off, then the shark is thrown back into the water, bleeding and unable to swim, dying a slow and agonizing death," explains Daniel Vairo, Sea Shepherd Brazil's volunteer director. Brazil has become a great shark fin supplier to the Asian market, where the emerging middle class prepares a tasteless soup as proof of their ascending social status.
The participation of the general public is a big part of the shark defense campaign, which also looks to involve restaurants and retailers in not selling any shark products. Sea Shepherd intends to ask the public to promote the campaign's logo in participating establishments and to boycott those that continue to serve shark products.
Already joining the cause are fashion photographer Jacques Dequeker and kite-surfing athletes Pedro Bueno, Victor Adamo, and two time world champion Guilly Brandao. Jacques, whom has worked with Gisele Bundchen and Shirley Mallmann, in his spare time searches for sharks.
"I've been diving with and photographing sharks for two years, they are incredible creatures. We have to understand that these animals are important for a balanced ecosystem, they deserve our effort to protect them and undo their image as assassins," said the photographer, who has two shark tattoos on his forearm, as a symbol of his respect for these animals.
"Those of us from the kite-surfing community are joining the campaign to show that even those of us that spend a great deal of time in the ocean do not fear these animals, which are falsely labeled as villains. To kill a shark is not to do good as many people believe. On the contrary, to kill millions of sharks is to destroy nature," said Bueno.
Kite-surfing star Pedro Bueno
credit Pedro Bueno
Shark fins seized by Brazilian authorities
credit Gerson Pantaleao
Jacques Dequeker swims with sharks in Brazil
credit Raquel Rossa