COLE BAY – On March 1, the Save Our Sharks Project of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance, launched a petition calling for better protection of sharks in the territorial waters of St. Maarten, St. Eustatius, Saba, the rest of the Dutch Caribbean and the Netherlands.
On a global scale, sharks are threatened by overfishing and destruction of their habitat. By signing the petition, people can show their support for shark conservation and encourage decision makers to protect these critical, yet misunderstood creatures. The petition asks for the strengthening of legal instruments, implementation of concrete protective measures in all waters, a permanent ban on shark finning and fishing in St. Maarten and improved international coordination with regard to sharks in the wider Caribbean.
Manager of the St. Maarten Nature Foundation and Chair of the Save our Sharks Project Tadzio Bervoets commented that sharks are not frightening or dangerous, and play an essential role as predators to keep the sea healthy. “Unfortunately 25% of all shark species are threatened with extinction worldwide, therefore, we are now asking all inhabitants of the Kingdom to speak up for protection of these extraordinary animals. Shark populations around St. Maarten, Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba and St. Eustatius have declined and we need these top predators to maintain the health of the reef and fish stocks around the island. They also add direct economic benefits through the amount of dive tourists sharks attract,” Bervoets stated.
The petition is part the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) Save our Sharks Project, a shark conservation initiative of the nature organizations collaborating in the DCNA, and is funded by the Dutch National Postcode Lottery.
During St. Maarten Shark Week, which will be held June 18-26, the petition will be presented to the Council of Ministers of St. Maarten. During Shark Week a range of activities organized in both the Netherlands and on all six islands will take place focusing on sharks and their importance to the well-being of the oceans and seas.
The petition can be signed online at: http://saveoursharks.nl/en/events/petition/