Marshall Islands Declares World’s Largest Shark Sanctuary

As much as we may dislike sharks because of stories, movies, photos and just the fear from the unknown below us while out in the ocean, sharks are still an important part of the ocean’s eco-system. They bring a natural way of balance to the harmony of the oceans. For an example, sharks could be seen as the wolves of the sea, helping to keep other animals in check which may disrupt farming.  Below, is an interesting story of helping to create an area and protect the sharks in the oceans.

Story Below…

Marshall Islands Declares World’s Largest Shark Sanctuary

The Marshall Islands is now home to the world’s largest shark sanctuary, an area of the central Pacific Ocean four times the size of California, The Pew Environment Group confirmed in a news announcement today. (Read the full announcement.)

The Washington-based conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonprofit that works globally to establish pragmatic, science-based policies that protect the oceans, said the Nitijela, the Parliament of the Marshalls, passed legislation unanimously last week that ends commercial fishing of sharks in all 1,990,530 square kilometers (768,547 square miles) of the central Pacific country’s waters, an ocean area four times the landmass of California.

Sharks, Marshall Islands (Photograph by Emory Kristof)

“We salute the Republic of the Marshall Islands for enacting the strongest legislation to protect sharks that we have seen,” said Matt Rand, director of global shark conservation for the Pew Environment Group, which is spearheading efforts to establish shark sanctuaries, where targeted fishing for these species is prohibited. “As leaders recognize the importance of healthy shark populations to our oceans, the momentum for protecting these animals continues to spread across the globe.”

The tropical atolls, reefs, and islets of The Marshall Islands  include Enewetak, where the United States exploded the first hydrogen bomb in 1952. Bikini Atoll is still uninhabitable because of past nuclear tests.

According to The Pew Environment’s statement, the key provisions of the Marshall Islands’ new law include:

  • A complete prohibition on the commercial fishing of sharks as well as the sale of any sharks or shark products. Its zero retention stipulation requires that any shark caught accidently by fishing vessels must be set free.
  • Large monetary fines, anywhere between U.S.$25,000 to U.S.$200,000, for anyone who is found to be fishing sharks or in possession of shark fins. In addition, violators would be fined the market value of the product in their possession.
  • A ban on the use of wire leaders, a longline fishing gear which is among the most lethal to sharks.
  • A monitoring and enforcement provision which requires all fishing vessels to land their catch at one of the country’s ports and bans at sea transfers.

The Pew Environment added: “Last week’s action was initiated in March of this year when the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority issued a moratorium on the shark trade. It was furthered in June, when President Jurelang Zedkaia joined other central Pacific leaders in setting the stage for the creation of a Micronesia Regional Shark Sanctuary, the first regional shark conservation agreement of its kind. In July, the Marshall Islands Mayors Association moved to make this vision a reality by passing a resolution that called on the 24 inhabited atolls throughout the Marshalls, each with its own local government, to enact ordinances prohibiting the sale and trade of sharks or shark fins.”

“Ours may be a small island nation, but our waters are now the biggest place sharks are protected.”

“In passing this bill, there is no greater statement we can make about the importance of sharks to our culture, environment and economy,” said Senator Tony deBrum, a representative from Kwajalein Atoll who is a bill cosponsor. “I thank President Jurelang Zedkaia for his vision and support for this effort. Ours may be a small island nation, but our waters are now the biggest place sharks are protected. We hope other Micronesian leaders will join with us to make good on our collective promise of a regional sanctuary.”

“The Marshall Islands have joined Palau, the Maldives, Honduras, the Bahamas and Tokelau in delivering the gold standard of protection for ensuring shark survival,” Rand said in The Pew Environment statement. “We look forward to helping other countries enlist in this cause.”

Teen catches bull shark in fresh water stream

Here is a story that no one really likes to hear but do live in the warm coastal waters around us and pretty much the world.

The Bull Shark  (National Geo Facts)is a shark which led to the inspiration for the story Jaws with the Jersey Shore attacks of 1916. They have been found in some fresh water rivers and in lakes even (golf coarse) of Australia after floods  brought them over dams or land-locking obstacles. In the United States they have been reports of them up the Mississippi River and even a reported bite near Chicago in 1955 which is up to debate with lack of support. They prefer warmer waters then great lakes and mostly found along coast which sometimes are brackish water. They can reach up to 11.5 feet and weighing up to 500 lbs.

 

Story below. Source http://www.11alive.com/rss/article/208295/3/Teen-catches-bull-shark-in-fresh-water-stream

Teen catches bull shark in fresh water stream…

VALONA, Ga. (NBC) – Sharks can be menacing, dangerous and they may be closer to us than you think. Bull sharks are increasingly being sighted in fresh water rivers.

For Noel Todd, his shark show down was basically in his back yard. Just a few weeks ago, the 16-year-old was hanging out at this fishing dock in his hometown of Valona, Georgia. “I’m always coming down here just to socialize, every day,” he explained.

Photo of Bull Shark
Swimming Bull Shark

Raised in a shrimping family, Noel is no stranger to the water or its creatures. Shark sightings are a common thing, especially if you’re on a shrimp boat like this and especially if you’re heading to sea, but Noel says it’s so rare for them to be spotted near land.

But while the teen was at the dock he saw some thing in this shallow pool, “Two sharks, not one but two,” he said.

They were man eating bull sharks, responsible for more deadly shark attacks than any other breed. Fast, aggressive, and they can swim in fresh water. Noel quickly fetched a shark hook, some bait and threw it in. “It basically came up, hit the pogie, locked on and started carrying it up the river, and when he started to slow down we started snapping.”

With help from another man, the two pulled the ropes with their bare hands, dragging the bull shark to the dock. “I figured it would have been a hundred pound shark, when it came out to three hundred pound shark, phew, it was a doozy is all I could say”

The bull shark weighed 368 pounds, measuring nearly 8 and a half feet long, in about four feet of water. The bull sharks are believed to be following shrimp boats, which sometimes throw unwanted fish overboard, up rivers from the Gulf of Mexico. No freshwater attacks on humans have been reported, so far. Chris Coco, Curator of zoological operations at the Georgia Aquarium said, “Bull sharks are a big animal, very aggressive feeder, no doubt, if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, a tragedy like that could occur. Absolutely.”

Fishermen have recently encountered bull sharks on the Potomac River in Maryland and near Sea Island, Georgia. Back in Valona, they are looking at this dock differently. “There’s little kids they learn how to swim with a life jacket right in here.,” he said.

DNR aims for fishing, hunting license fee increases by 2013

Saw this story in the IP for all those who are fisherman out there and may fish out along the local creeks such as Jarvis Creek or others.

DNR aims for fishing, hunting license fee increases by 2013…

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources is beginning to lay the groundwork for fee increases for hunters and anglers that could pump $4.7 million more into the agency each year.DNR has been hit hard by budget cuts as its state appropriations have dropped from $32 million to $14 million. The agency’s board views a fee increase as a fair way for those who use the state’s woods and waterways to pay for their upkeep and protection.”We want to take care of the playground, and the people who play there should pay,” said board chairwoman Caroline Rhodes.

Some local anglers agree.

Dave Harter, president of the Hilton Head Island Sportfishing Club, said area fishermen have supported fee increases because current costs are “too good of a deal.”

“A portion of that saltwater license money comes back to Beaufort County,” Harter said. “When you consider how much of it supports the Waddell Mariculture Center, for example, that’s really important.”

Al Stokes, manager of the Waddell center in greater Bluffton, said revenue from saltwater fishing licenses supports saltwater-related programs at the center, such as fishery studies and creation of artificial reefs.

Bo Von Harten, president of the Beaufort Sportfishing and Diving Club, said he buys licenses he doesn’t need, such as a shrimp baiting license, to support DNR operations.

“That money is simply returned to DNR to use, whether for law enforcement or artificial reef programs, fish stocking programs or research,” Von Harten said.

An early draft of the fee changes includes increases in freshwater and saltwater fishing licenses — from $10 to $15 — and for hunting licenses — from $18 to $25.

Boat registration fees would go from a flat rate of $30 for all boats to $35 for boats less than 16 feet, and then rise incrementally based on the boat’s length. That would bring in about $1 million in additional revenue.

The board has begun presenting the plan to key legislators. A formal request will be delayed until the 2013 legislative session, since any increases would be hard to approve in an election year.

“I don’t like waiting,” said the DNR board’s Rhodes. “I don’t like the idea of dragging our feet, but I don’t like failure either.”

Nearly one-fourth of the increase would come from a $5 boost in the freshwater fishing license for state residents, which has been $10 since 1985. The state sells about 200,000 fishing licenses each year.

The new fees still would be lower than the 14-state southern average for hunting and fishing licenses and near the average for everyone else.

Some of the fees for non-residents also would go up, but not as much and not across the board. Many of the non-resident fees were adjusted in 2003, but there hasn’t been a major change in state license fees since 1985. Because few people from outside the state get South Carolina licenses, fee increases for non-residents raise little money.

Rhodes asked the agency staff to post details of the proposal on the DNR website, www.dnr.sc.gov, and schedule public meetings to discuss the changes. That would give the board time to listen to the public and tweak the proposal before taking it to the legislature.

Many outdoors-oriented groups have asked DNR to increase fees to help the agency better manage the state’s wildlife and natural areas. The Camo Coalition, a group of 24 conservation organizations, is unanimously in favor of the proposal, according to Cary Chamblee, a lobbyist for the group.

Oyster season cracks open a childlike joy

Oyster season has opened…

Among the trails in the grass at low tide in Jarvis Creek, one will find beds of oysters sprouting out of the soft mud like flowers. Oysters season generally follows in the months which end with “R” but, the SCDNR can change the season or beds openings as well. Oysters take roughly 1 year to reach maturity and 2 to 3 years to reach harvest-able size.  The bi-value oyster filter feed help keeping our water ways clean. Once an oyster reaches harvest-able size, it can filter up to 2 to 3 gallons an hour. They can absorb some of the toxins in the water and have a limit of how much they can take before it kills them. One reason you do not want to eat oysters from run off areas or from around marinas.

In Jarvis Creek, the oyster beds are State Shellfish grounds (only for personal consumption).

After eating oyster… What to do with the oyster shells collected from the local waterways? You can always recycle them, more info at the SCDNR site.

 

Story below from Island Packet.

Oyster season cracks open a childlike joy…

As life in the Lowcountry rolls into October, the world is our oyster.

Isn’t it a pity that the throngs of July vacationers don’t get to sip the golden nectar of October?

Not really.

This is our time. It’s our time to feel a breeze on our face that’s not wringing wet with humidity. It’s our time to watch men in oyster bateaux bobbing silently against distant waves of marsh grass.

The bonfires of oyster roasts will soon season our lives like the salt in our rivers.

At the Bluffton Oyster Co. at the end of Wharf Street, the ladies have been shucking for a good month already. They’ve got plenty of oysters to sell, but it’s still hot, the mud’s soft and the sand gnats are brutal in the marsh. The pickers aren’t out in full force yet, says owner Larry Toomer, but a cold snap will soon turn that tide.

Larry’s a third-generation waterman. I spoke with him Wednesday evening while he was riding the waves in his shrimp trawler, Daddy’s Girls. He was poised to catch mountains of shrimp when they came rushing out of Calibogue Sound on ebb tide. It’s a sign of our times that he was lonely out there. Not long ago, 40 trawlers would have been jockeying for position on a 9-foot September tide.

As for the oysters, this will be the second full season with half his leased beds in the May River shut down because of pollution. It’ll put a strain on the beds in the other half, he said, because they’ll be worked harder.

But we must rejoice that there are still plenty of oysters to pick, and that Lowcountry oysters remain the world’s finest. And we should be thankful that some family-owned seafood businesses have survived another year in a crusty industry that has been sinking like a rusted anchor.

The least we can do is ask for wild-caught seafood, as local as it can get, at restaurants and retailers.

Something about oyster season brings out the spirit of the child within us. It was once captured in words and plastered across the top of the front page of The Island Packet. It was in September 1979, and Garry Moore, the radio and television star who retired to Hilton Head Island, submitted one of the memorable quotations that used to stream across the top of the front page.

His words blared the good news that all does not have to be so deadly serious in the Lowcountry, especially when oysters are ready to pick:

September is a month that ends in R,

And so are the months that follow it.

So if you have been holding an oyster in your mouth all summer,

It’s OK now to swallow it.

— Garry Moore