Some-fin must be wrong in these troubled waters

By Tianna Clarke

More people die each year worldwide from champagne corks and falling vending machines than sharks… can you believe that? So why are we so afraid? Do we fear sharks because of the way they are portrayed in pop culture? Probably. Because for most people, watching Jaws may be as close as an encounter as they will get.

If someone were to prance through the African Serengeti and get attacked by a lion, would you be surprised? I wouldn’t be. You are entering that creatures home, similar to when you enter the ocean, and yet shark attacks seem to provoke so much attention and worry.

Well folks, I am here to tell you that I, Tianna Clarke, have responsibly entered the ocean, dived amongst many species of sharks, and lived to tell the tail (or technically fin). And simply coexisting with the sharks is the least of my worries after spending a month living in Fiji and contributing to a shark conservation project with Projects Abroad.

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Hopefully I have helped you to lift some of the stigma surrounding sharks and the danger they pose to you, which is significantly little. Because the real apex predator in the food chain isn’t the sharks, it’s us. For every human killed by a shark, humans kill approximately 2 million sharks. Over-fishing and bycatch are the main causes of the rapidly declining shark populations worldwide, amongst many others.

Whilst living on the project in Fiji, I had the pleasure of meeting many other volunteers who were avid environmentalists and advocates for marine sustainability. Thanks to many of these people, I do think twice before getting a straw with my water at a restaurant, or using Ziploc bags instead of reusable containers. Small gestures such as these have the possibility to accumulate and make a serious difference, instead of accumulating within the habitat of our sharks, and other marine animals.

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Without sharks as apex predators in our marine ecosystems (don’t forget we do have sharks in Canada!), we see dramatic changes in reef ecosystems and populations. Sharks must maintain the balance of the food chain by preying upon the injured and diseased animals.

Working on a conservation project was a passion I was waiting to explore, and has spurred my interest forward. Forward such that I will continue to volunteer on conservation projects following completion of my degree, and forward to Canada where even in our home of Alberta, we can make an impact.

Despite the fact that Edmonton lies quite a distance from the nearest ocean, or even a shark for that matter, doesn’t mean that we can’t contribute to this issue. Shark finning has become a highly sought after practice, particularly in Asian countries due to the cultural value behind products such as the infamous shark fin soup. Luckily Canada has banned finning of sharks, but is in the process of also banning the importation of shark fins, which is currently acceptable. With both of these activities prohibited in Canada, we can help to make a difference and save these magnificent animals from their potential extinction.

To show your support, please sign the petition from change.org to ban the import of shark fins in Canada. In the meantime, I will be taking steps towards ensuring our local representatives support Bill S-238, so we can make permeant changes to our oceans and hopefully many will follow in our wake.

https://www.change.org/p/canadian-federal-government-ban-the-import-of-shark-fins-across-canada-support-bill-s-238

 

A big vinaka vakalevu!!!

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