The largest dive expo in Asia, ADEX, takes places this month in Singapore. This ninth ADEX expo is focussed on sharks – the first marine creature ADEX was dedicated to back in 2010. There will be presentations about sharks, and in particular about how people can help to ensure the survival of sharks for the next generation to enjoy.
With the trade in shark products estimated to have been worth $540 million (USD) to $1.2 billion (USD) as of 2007, and this trade continuing today, the focus on shark conservation couldn’t have come at a better time.
Here are our top 5 ways to help save sharks:
- Change your consumer habits
One of the easiest ways to help conserve sharks is by avoiding shark products and anything that contains shark-based ingredients. The obvious products to avoid are shark fin soup and shark meat; which will also help your health given shark meat is known to contain potentially dangerous levels of mercury. Be aware that shark meat is sometimes given different names when it is advertised for sale, such as flake or rock salmon. A quick name check on the Internet will help ensure you are not eating an endangered species of shark.
Good fish guides can be useful to help consumers avoid eating vulnerable shark species and also seafood products that are harvested using unsustainable fishing methods. Some non-shark fisheries have high shark mortality as a result of bycatch from their chosen fishing method. Different country’s good fish guides are available online and will show you which fish are okay to eat, and which should be avoided.
Shark ingredients are found in some cosmetic and health products as well. Read your labels closely to ensure you are not inadvertently buying something that contains shark. The ingredient squalene, commonly used in cosmetics, can be sourced from sharks, other animals, or non-animal sources. Shark cartilage or chondroitin from sharks is commonly used in joint supplements but vegan alternatives are available. If you’re unsure of what it is from the label, you can contact the product company to find out more.
- Enjoy responsible shark tourism
For sharks to be protected and conserved, they need to be worth more alive than dead. Shark diving, when conducted responsibly, is a great tool for achieving this and helps removes fear whilst educating people about the importance of sharks. Studies have already estimated shark tourism to be worth over $314 million (USD) per year and this tourism is expected to generate over $780 million (USD) globally within the next 20 years.
Diving with sharks is a great way to support shark conservation and can be enjoyed with a variety of sharks at world-class destinations. Guadalupe cage diving with great white sharks is at the top of many divers wish lists, as is tiger shark diving at Tiger Beach in the Bahamas, and thresher shark diving at Monad Shoal in the Philippines. The MV Horizon offers Guadalupe cage diving safaris for divers and snorkelers from July to November each year.
- Use the power of your voice
We each have a voice that we can use to create positive change and it is well-known that we are more likely to conserve a species that we understand and care about. It is easy to use your voice to create that change in perception in others.
You can help improve peoples’ knowledge of shark conservation in your social circle or you could speak with people who fear sharks. An even easier way to create positive change is to use social media to spread messages of shark conservation and raise awareness of the plight of sharks. With social channels become ever-more present in our lives, it is easy to get online and do something worthwhile.
If you’re keen to get more involved, why not set up a shark conservation talk in your local community, dive club, or at a local school. Children love to get involved in shark art projects and hear stories about sharks – they fascinate them. Giving a school talk is a great way to nip shark fear in the bud whilst children are still young, whilst helping their teachers understand the importance of sharks. A memorable talk or fun event will encourage participants to spread positive shark messages within their own family and communities.
Support a shark charity
You can support the work of a shark charity with monetary donations, shark club memberships, by adopting a shark, or even by supporting a fundraising event. There are a number of great shark charities to support and some accept home-based volunteers as well. The Shark Trust is an effective and trusted organization that was instrumental in banning shark finning in the EU and there are various ways to get involved with their work.
- Become an ambassador for sharks
If you are passionate about sharks and would like to get actively involved with their conservation, you can become an ambassador for sharks with various different charities. Shark Angels are always looking for new Angels and Cherubs to join their movement.
By Kathryn Curzon. Source: Deeper Blue