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National Shark Workshop #526177
10/05/17 05:41 AM
10/05/17 05:41 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 59,686
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP
Belize first ever Nationwide Ray Sanctuary ....

A Shark’s Story

Sharks and stingrays are NOT the first species that come to mind when you think of protection or conservation. Besides, you probably figure that those sea creatures can protect themselves...and the fewer sharks there are preying on fish and terrorizing swimmers in the waters, the better, right?

Wrong. Conservationists say that in fact sharks and sting rays have a central role in the marine life. Today at a workshop at the Biltmore, Courtney Weatherburne found out just how special these much misunderstood species are in Belize.

Courtney Weatherburne reporting
Sharks are one of the most feared animals on the planet. But apart from roaming and hunting prey in the depths of the sea, sharks play a very important role in harmonizing the marine ecosystem.

Demian Chapman, Associate Professor, Researcher, Florida International University
"Sharks fulfill a role as top predator and if you remove top predators often times it causes the ecosystem to become unbalanced and you get all sorts of crazy changes."

And that is why shark conservation is crucial. Even more so now as the population is under major threat.

Globally about 100 million sharks are killed by humans per year. In Belize, it's a few thousand per year. These figures are troubling and the Belize Fisheries Department along with its partners hope to better manage sharks through legislation.

Hon. Omar Figueroa, Minister of State Agriculture. Fisheries, Forestry, Environment, & Sustainable Tourism
"Belize is a country that we all would agree that is blessed with a wealth of natural resources. Historically we have taken a lot of these resources for granted because they are so abundant out there."

"We need to put systems and structures in place to help protect these particular species like sharks that are targeted so that is why the government and the Ministry is moving in this direction to render some protection to these species."

These protection efforts don't only focus on sharks.

Sting rays, which are cousins to sharks, are also under threat but Belize has made a significant step forward in guarding them.

Demian Chapman
"Belize should be congratulated for protecting all species of Rays. This actually makes it the first country in the world that has specifically gone out and said we are going to protect all species of ray, making it sort of a Ray Sanctuary."

For the next 3 days, fisheries personnel and conservationists will be evaluating Belize's efforts in managing and conserving sharks and rays but more importantly, the focus is on developing an effective conservation plan.

Hon. Omar Figueroa
"That is why this workshop becomes extremely important we need to understand that at one point harvesting becomes unsustainable, maybe putting season on these sharks, different ways that we can better manage these species and give them additional protection."

When it comes to sharks, as scary and menacing as they may seem, they are so often misunderstood - beyond their powerful jaws and sinister presence, they are mostly docile creatures - who, in this case should be more afraid of humans than we are of them.

The main topics to be discussed in the 3 day workshop include the management of hammerhead sharks, silky sharks and thresher sharks. These species are internationally protected and Belize has an obligation to do so too. From there on, other topics will be addressed as it relates to a conservation plan for other shark species and stingrays. A report will be devised after the workshop on Friday.

On an interesting note, and one that will be looked at during the workshop is that the Bahamas have not commercially fished sharks for 20 to 30 years and they have a thriving shark tourism industry that generates 100 million US dollars a year.

Channel 7


Work Continues on Managing Shark Population

Back in 2012, a national shark working group was established to devise a national plan of action for the conservation and management of sharks. That plan now provides for a framework for the management of domestic small-scale shark fishery. In order to build on what we know of the shark populations and their management, the Fisheries Department is hosting a three-day workshop to prepare a “non-detriment finding” for hammerhead shark species in compliance with international regulations. News Five’s Andrea Polanco was at today’s opening and has more on the event and the announcement of a first of its kind ray sanctuary.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

There are over fifty species of sharks in Belize and twenty species of rays – these underwater creatures are big tourist attractions. But a growing number of sharks are killed every year in Belize – the exact number or percentage is not known – some estimates put it at a few thousand every year. Sharks and Rays play important roles in our waters so the management and conservation of these animals are critical.

Dr. Demian Chapman, Associate Professor/Researcher, Florida Int’l University

“The killing of sharks and rays can be problematic for the eco-system because sharks fulfill a role as a top predator and if you remove a top predator often times it causes the eco-system to become unbalanced and you get all crazy changes. Rays – the ecological role is not well known except that we know they turn over the sediment and keep nutrients circulating in the system and they might help feed the corals and help feed fish and things like that, so they provide an important role sort of an ecosystem engineer.”

Protection for sharks and rays is still being developed to help these marine animals that are targeted.

Omar Figueroa, Minister of State, Fisheries

“We are still trying to develop the protection and we have to give it – with rays we have to give it more protection. With sharks, there may be some that can still be harvested and that is why this workshop is extremely important because at one point harvesting becomes unsustainable; maybe put in seasons for these sharks and other ways that we can better manage the species better and give them added protection.”

Andrea Polanco

“I think one of the examples they cited was in Bahamas where there is absolutely no fishing of sharks; is this something that Belize would consider looking at?”

Omar Figueroa

“Oh, we definitely and that is why I am excited to look at the results of this workshop. Doctor Chapman provided some very important data. You look at where all these sharks are being ended up – the fins and how is being harvested. So, we definitely need to take a closer look at the way we manage our shark.”

Conservationists have long argued that living sharks are more valuable than those that are fished or killed. And for Bahamas, living sharks have proven so, so much that the fishing of sharks has been stopped for over twenty years. Since then healthy shark populations have encouraged “shark tourism” – helping the islands to generate about one hundred million US dollars every year. But for Belize shark fishing is still legal – only the whale and nurse sharks species are protected – but gill nets and long lines have proven to be destructive to shark population in Belize. So the aim is to create a balance because the shark fishing as it stands is unsustainable. One of the ways to do that is through the National Shark Working Group. In a three day workshop a plan will be developed to provide better protection for some shark species that are at high risk of being threatened. This will help to guide policies of the fisheries department.

Dr. Demian Chapman

“Dive a bit deeply into the management of hammerhead sharks; two species – the great hammerhead and the scalloped hammerhead and also the Silky shark and the Threshers. These are species that have international protection and Belize has international obligations to manage those species, which are particularly threatened, very, very carefully. So, we are meeting with fishermen, scientists and the conservation community and the fisheries department to put our heads together to come up with a common sense plan  that will enable us to meet this obligations.”

And as a move to protect vulnerable marine animals – the Fisheries Department announced that there will be protection for all species of rays. It is a first of its kind move according to Doctor Chapman:

Dr. Demian Chapman

“Belize should be congratulated for protecting all species of rays; this actually makes it the first country in the world that is specifically gone ahead and say that we are going to protect all species of ray and make it a ray sanctuary. This protection of rays is a big, big step and so globally I think it makes Belize a world leader in ray conservation.”

Channel 5



Work Continues on Managing Shark Population
Back in 2012, a national shark working group was established to devise a national plan of action for the conservation and management of sharks. That plan now provides for a framework for the management of domestic small-scale shark fishery. In order to build on what we know of the shark populations and their management, the Fisheries Department is hosting a three-day workshop to prepare a “non-detriment finding” for hammerhead shark species in compliance with international regulations. News Five’s Andrea Polanco was at today’s opening and has more on the event and the announcement of a first of its kind ray sanctuary.


Re: National Shark Workshop [Re: Marty] #526198
10/05/17 09:14 PM
10/05/17 09:14 PM
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,460
Belize City
K
Katie Valk Offline

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Katie Valk  Offline
K
And our Belizean shark expert? Dr Rachel Graham?


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