A Campaign to Alert the Population to the Risk of Shark Extinction

The sharks are at the top of the food chain, and if they become extinct, the biological marine structure will fallThe sharks are at the top of the food chain, and if they become extinct, the biological marine structure will fall
Photo: Daniel Botelho
Brazil is one of the top 10 producers of shark fins to the black market, exporting 200 tons of fins each year. In order to alert the Brazilian people and urge them to sign an online petition against finning, Sea Shepherd Brazil has just launched the Bleeding Ocean campaign.

Starting on April 22nd, people that access Maplink.com.br (one of the most popular online maps of Brazil) to search for traffic and address information in Rio de Janeiro will no longer find the sea colored its natural blue, but blood red, representing thousands of dead sharks.

“We’re close to a collapse. The sharks are at the top of the food chain, and if they become extinct, the biological marine structure will fall. Humankind will come to its own extinction, since all living organisms are connected. This is not Planet Earth; it’s Planet Ocean,” said Wendell Estol, biologist and director of Sea Shepherd Brazil.

The awareness campaign was developed by the creatives Rafael Pfaltzgraff and Gabriel Lepesteur in partnership with Sea Shepherd Brazil in the hope that it will wake people up to the realization we are losing our sharks and the time to act is now before it’s too late.

In the beginning of April, Sea Shepherd Brazil participated in the VII Meeting of the Brazilian Society for Study of Elasmobranchs (SBEEL) and V International Workshop About Shark Incidents, at the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco (UFRPE), in Recife, Northeastern Brazil.

The City of Recife has been chosen because it is listed as one of the world’s top 10 “shark-infested” beaches, according to the International Shark Attack File/Florida. Over the years, sharks have attacked at least 55 people, killing at least 16, off Pernambuco. Many of those attacks were beyond Recife and three people were killed by sharks off Recife last year.

Mr. Stoll gave a lecture about the organization's actions in defense of sharks and rays since 2011, the last time that Sea Shepherd Brazil participated in a meeting of SBEEL. Among the actions presented, the most controversial, as usual, was the application of a moratorium on shark fishing off the Brazilian coastline for at least 20 years (delivered in July 2012 during a public hearing in the Federal Senate), an issue that dominated the roundtable discussion.

A shark swims off the coast of BrazilA shark swims off the coast of Brazil
Photo: Daniel Botelho
This presentation and discussions were very important to the application for the moratorium because it happened in an academic context, where the studies that scientifically underpin our request take place.

"The Brazilian Society for the Study of Elasmobranchs (SBEEL) as a scientific society has no activism character and usually holds events that show the importance of these animals to both marine ecosystems and for humanity, although one of its goals is the conservation of sharks, rays and chimaeras. For this reason, the invitation to Sea Shepherd Brazil to participate on the VIII SBEEL Meeting was important, so we could explain that we have other tools beyond the scientific data to make our petition to preserve elasmobranchs be heard and taken into account by environmental policymakers and the civil society, which urgently needs to know more to understand what is really happening with sharks and rays, especially here in Recife, where groups try to indiscriminately hunt sharks, and commit other nonsensical actions. Sea Shepherd Brazil fundamentally supports taking measures by the government against the actions of these groups of thugs, as well as supports the VIII SBEEL Meeting showing students and other members of society how we can make serious strides toward the conservation of marine life. Long live Sea Shepherd Brazil,” says Francisco Striking Santana da Silva, President of the Organizing Committee of the VIII SBEEL Meeting and Director of SBEEL .

What we saw during the Workshop is that there is a conflict between humans and sharks in Recife, and that the resolution of such conflict is not forthcoming because the alternatives that do not result in deaths of sharks are considered too expensive to be adopted. This concerns us because, once again, the voiceless sharks will pay the price. So Sea Shepherd Brazil believes that we should do whatever is necessary to prevent more deaths from occurring amongst both species, sharks and humans, and it seems that adopting the principles of precaution and prevention is the best way — closing the beaches with the highest number of incidents and immediately suspending all shark catches off the coast of Pernambuco. At the same time, there should be a recovery of degraded areas such as the Port of Suape, and an end to trawling in front of beaches to avoid fish that can attract sharks from being discarded nearby.

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