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Diving with Elasmobranchs: a
Call for Restraint
George H. Burgess
Recreational Fishing and
Carl Safina -. .
Whale Shark Management
Programme, Western Australia
Jeremy Colman -
Management of the US Atlantic *
Recreational Shark Catch IIIustrtion _illiams 1 i93
A Craze for Shark-Cage Diving has its Dangers --- for Sharks -
Shark Cage Diving in South Africa Sustainable Recreational Utilisation?
Testing the Shark POD
Closure of Philippines Whale Shark Fishery
The American Zoo & Aquarium Association: Elasmobranchs in Public
Elasmobranch Research and Conservation Efforts at the National
Aquarium in Baltimore (NAIB)
Alan D. Henningsen and Kimberly Morris-Zarneke
Shark and Ray Fisheries in Turkey
Basking Shark Protection Extended Again
New Publication: IUCN Guidelines for Re-introductions
Chumming the Elphinstone Wreck, Egypt
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Diving with elasmobranchs: a call for restraint
George H. Burgess, Florida Museum of Natural History, USA *- *
As curator of the International Shark Attack File, I have a special interest in shark/human interactions and .
have followed closely the development of ecotourism dive operations involving elasmobranchs. Most
prevalent are attractions involving the feeding of sharks.
At least three types of shark feeding operations occur. Metal or PVC shark cages are used mainly in white ^
shark Carcharodon carcharias dives at numerous locations worldwide; also by blue shark Prionace
glauca and reef shark Carcharhinus spp. feeding attractions in California and Australia, respectively. s -. *1
Chain mail suits (no cages) are utilized by other operations largely targeting blue sharks (e.g. in California)
but also in at least one Bahamas carcharhinid dive. -
Shark feeding operations provide the best opportunity
for most divers to see sharks close at hand, in the wild.
These are grey reef sharks in the Red Sea.
Photo J. Stafford-Deitsch.
Finally, many feeding operations do not provide tourists with any protective gear (Bahamas, Florida,
Maldives, and probably other localities). The common denominator in all operational types is chumming or
baiting. Some go so far as to promote hand-feeding of sharks or even to 'train' their clients in hand-feeding
Non-feeding observation dives with whale sharks Rhincodon typus, basking sharks Cetorhinus
maximus, and manta rays (Mobulidae) and stingray (Dasyatidae) feeding operations also take place.
My reservations about feeding-type dives are based on four interrelated factors: the safety of the divers;
the likelihood for negative publicity directed at sharks if a shark bites a diver during one of these dives; the
possibility for ecological disruption; and potential negative impact on multi-user recreational use of the
^^^^^^H^^^J kVj 11 NK.^1 11L~tN L^ I ^^^^^^^^^^^^*
Shark cage diving generally appears to be safe. I am unaware of any serious injuries to divers, excepting
biting wounds to hands placed outside the cage. Chain mail and no-protective-gear dives have resulted in
injury to participants. Chain mail suits offer protection only from small to medium-sized sharks. However,
the tooth tips of even small sharks can penetrate the mesh resulting in injury well documented in the
much-replayed video involving Valerie Taylor. The powerful jaws of larger sharks may produce crushing
injuries even if teeth do not penetrate the mail. A large shark with serrated, shearing teeth, e.g. a white,
tiger Galeocerdo cuvier, bull Carcharhinus leucas, or dusky Carcharhinus obscurus, would
likely be able to cut through such mesh. The metal mail may even be electromagnetically attractive; white
sharks, in particular, are well documented biters of metal ship hulls and propellers.
In the Bahamas, where unprotected dive-with-sharks operations developed quickly as a tourist draw, more
than a dozen injuries have occurred in the last several years, at least two quite serious. Most were not
publicized because of efficient damage control by local operators. Perhaps fortunately for the operators,
most victims were host dive masters, but a serious injury to a diving tourist is inevitable.
Last year I took part in an unprotected Bahama feeding dive to view its design and safety. The experience
was exhilarating. An aggregation of about 50 sharks (blacktip Carcharhinus limbatus, Caribbean reef
C. perezi, and nurse Ginglymostoma cirratum) were attracted to a frozen fish 'chum ball' at a site
utilised continuously (3-4 times a week) for several years. Hundreds (thousands?) of bony fishes were
similarly attracted. I did not feel threatened by the sharks swimming above and around me as we knelt on
the sand bottom of a natural 'amphitheatre.' I did note one blacktip, apparently low in a dominance order,
confined to the perimeter of the circling mass of fishes and reluctant to approach the central chum ball. It
exhibited apparent displacement or frustration behaviour: periodic mouth gaping, increasing over time, and
occasional erratic swimming movements, including back hunching and pectoral fin dropping. This type of
behaviour has been observed immediately prior to attacks on divers at other Bahamas shark feeding dive
sites, and is similar to gray reef shark behavior observed by Nelson et al. (1986) in the Pacific.
To reduce risk of shark attack:
avoid diving in an area known to be frequented by sharks
avoid diving in waters known to contain animal carcasses and blood
avoid wearing shiny objects and contrasting colors while diving do not touch sharks
An unanswered question is whether individual bait-entrained sharks are more or less dangerous to
humans than their wild peers. Observations of feeding reef sharks in the Bahamas, which largely ignore
divers, could suggest 'no more' or even 'less' of a threat. However, shark attack rate is profoundly
influenced by the concentrations of sharks and humans occupying the water at the same time. Increases
in either generally result in an increased probability of an attack. Obviously, high concentrations of both
sharks and humans are found together in a small area in baited-shark dives. It is also clear that sharks
attracted to bait are in a heightened state of excitement, some approaching or achieving frenzy. In
addition, the unnaturally high concentrations of sharks pursuing a limited resource (the bait) may lead to
increases in density-dependent agonistic behavioral displays (see box above) and increased likelihood of
attack. Furthermore, we do not know how the food-conditioned sharks behave when the free food stops.
Recently a documented attack occurred on a diver swimming at a Bahamas feeding site on a non-feeding
Many dive operations actually encourage ecotourists to touch the sharks. At least one offers "shark
feeding instruction." Such ill-considered activity promotes irrational human behaviour like that prominently
displayed in a recently published US dive magazine devoted to diving with sharks. The cover depicts a
diver holding a 2-2.5 m Carcharhinus, hands on snout and dorsal fin. A photograph accompanying one
story ("Friendly Encounters") captures a diver grabbing a ride on the tail of a "16 ft" white shark. Another
article ("Cool and Cuddly Sharks") is accompanied by photos of divers hugging sharks. I am not a shark
attack alarmist at the ISAF we have consistently tried to put attack in perspective and turn media
attention to more important conservation-based shark issues but we cannot ignore the fact that sharks
are wonderfully designed predators that can and occasionally do harm humans. While some entrained
sharks can be approached and even handled readily, do we want to send the message that divers
routinely can approach, touch, and even hug sharks in other situations? I can't think of any situation
where grabbing the tail of a 16 ft white shark is advisable.
The recent rise in the number of inshore baited white shark dives has raised a serious concern: will these
operations attract a larger number of white sharks into the area, resulting in an increased probability of
attack (and potentially serious trauma and fatality) on other user groups operating there? Whites are a
more serious threat to humans than most carcharhinids they are larger and normally consume larger
prey. I believe a short-term localised increase in their number is a real possibility; with that increase comes
a greater chance of whites and humans interacting.
Ecotourism dives aside, shark attacks on humans are rare. Nevertheless, shark attack still is of great
interest and concern to the public. The ISAF routinely provides advice on how to reduce the already tiny
chance of attack. It is ironic that shark-feeding dives freely violate several of the axioms of conventional
wisdom advocated by virtually all attack researchers (see box above). That more than two dozen reported
attacks have occurred worldwide during shark feeding comes as no surprise to those who study shark
If safety of participants was the only concern, I would not object to shark feeding dives, assuming, of
course, that divers are duly forewarned that injuries have occurred and that the sport carries an inherent
risk (currently, many operations maintain bites have not occurred anywhere). Any injury or fatality then
could be rationalised as an unfortunate accident. However, when such a serious attack does occur and I
predict unequivocally that it will media coverage will be tremendous. The tabloid press predictably will
hype a story involving a diving tourist who loses a hand or arm during one of these operations. Imagine
what reaction a fatality will bring! Actual video of the incident is likely to be available to tabloid television as
these dives are routinely taped by host dive operators and participants alike. Needless to say, the shark
will not be portrayed favourably the "Jaws" image will be reinforced ad nauseam. The recently
reshaped, biologically accurate public image of sharks that many have worked so hard to foster will be
undercut quickly and decidedly.
This is of equal concern in the shallow-water shark-feeding areas, where the feeding operations are
altering the natural system. Based on my personal dive experience and those of others, it is clear that the
concentrations of sharks and bony fishes at feeding sites are unnatural. It is normally difficult to see
blacktip or reef sharks in non-feeding situations in the Bahamas; they tend to avoid divers, are quite
skittish, and (except for nurse sharks) are rarely encountered while diving (unless spearfishing).
The lure of the feeding operations, of course, is the guarantee of success in giving divers a chance to see
and photograph sharks which are largely oblivious to the divers. However, the resident sharks and some
bony fishes at these sites are now trained 'show
animals' and at least partially dependent on free food.
That the Bahamas sharks are indeed entrained is
demonstrated by their response to the sound of boat
motors. Dive operators routinely rev their engines as
they approach the feeding site in order to attract the
sharks, which rapidly arrive, surrounding the boat long
before the first food or diver hits the water (sound
Pavlovian?). Similar entrainment has been reported at
Australian feeding sites.
Groupers (Serranidae) at some Caribbean and
Bahama feeding sites are similarly well-trained, rising Gray reef shark Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos
from the reefs in search of handouts from divers during a shark feeding dive.
entering the water. At Grand Cayman, where diver
feeding of reef fishes was fashionable for years, I observed mushrooming populations of sergeant-major
Abudefduf saxatilis and yellowtail snapper Lutjanus chrysurus. They became pests at feeding
sites, hovering around divers looking for handouts (and in the case of sergeant-majors, frequently biting
The highly migratory nature and differing reproductive strategies of Carcharhinus spp. prevents direct
analogy to these situations, but it seems possible that their population size is increasing locally at feeding
sites. We do not know if such local concentration of sharks at feeding sites allows natural levels of density
and distribution to be maintained over adjacent areas. Alternatively, the feeding sites may simply relocate
sharks from nearby areas and overall populations may be stable or even in decline. No hard data are
available, but the large numbers congregating around feeding sites indicate that repetitive feeding attracts
sharks from wide distances. Feeding may promote higher than normal local shark population levels since
food is readily obtainable at virtually no energetic cost. Additionally, localised clustering of sharks and
associated bony fishes entrained to feeding may present an easy mark for poachers, as it did in the
Bahamas when rogue fishers wiped out a local aggregation of sharks associated with a shark-feeding
Conversely, while some operations use otherwise discarded remains of recreationally caught fishes as
bait, others obtain chum or bait fishes by spearfishing. Localised depletion of reef-fishes may occur in
these areas. Some South African white shark dive operators reportedly catch juvenile bronze whaler
Carcharhinus brachyurus and smooth hammerhead Sphyrna zygaena sharks to use as bait. As
with reef-fishes, repetitive fishing for these species in a small area may lead to reductions in local
Impacts on other water users
The presence of sharks entrained to the sound of a motor may lead to localised loss of multi-party
recreational activities such as fishing, spearfishing, and traditional skin or SCUBA diving where divers are
not interested in encountering sharks en masse. If sharks appear whenever a motorboat visits a region,
anglers are likely to lose their hooked catches to opportunistic sharks or have the sharks frighten away
potential catches. Skin and SCUBA divers seeking sharkless diving will encounter unwelcome escorts. As
noted above, a tourist diving at a feeding site on a non-feeding day was bitten on the head by a
carcharhinid shark. We have heard of a diver who had a shark follow his outboard motor-driven boat from
dive stop to dive stop, eventually ending in a bite.
I am of the opinion that inshore feeding of sharks is not in the best long-term interest of an area's
economy. While the activity will draw in ecotourists, inevitably a serious shark bite will occur, producing
significant trauma or death. The ensuing negative publicity likely will result in the loss of that segment of
tourists as well as at least some others who do not wish to meet sharks regularly during their dives.
Pelagic shark-feeding cage operations may be of less consequence than inshore unprotected dives. The
feeding sites generally are located far away from centres of human activity, entrainment of the sharks is
less likely, and the ecotourists are adequately protected.
Whale sharks, basking sharks and mantas
Whale shark and manta ray ecotourism dives have appeared recently, primarily in the Indo-Pacific.
Basking shark ecotourism has potential in some temperate waters. Activities focusing on these large
planktivores raise some of the same concerns historically directed at ecotourism operations targeting
whales; that the natural behaviours of these species will be altered by the proximity of divers and boats,
and possibly spotter airplane noise and shadows. Strict regulations address observation and harassment
of marine mammals, and stipulate specific separation requirements in the USA. In contrast, 'riding' whale
sharks and mantas is shown in some magazine photographs and television videos and evidently is viewed
as a desirable activity by some. This situation has been addressed in Western Australia (see article
"Whale shark management programme, Western Australia"), where human-whale shark interactions are
now managed and monitored. The development of similar protocols elsewhere would be prudent.
This does not appear to be of such concern, although there is some potential for injury where it occurs
(several localities in the Caribbean and Maldives, and perhaps elsewhere). Video footage of a shallow-
water feeding operation in the Virgin Islands shows numerous large Dasyatis americana swimming
amongst and through the legs of tourists standing in waist deep water, knocking some off their feet. It is
likely that a large spine will be encountered sometime during a fall. The 'media image' problem, however,
is not likely to arise, nor are there concerns over multi-user recreation. Ecological disruption is probably
Dive-with-sharks operations have been lauded as a positive environmental experience for those divers
who can afford this activity and vicariously for thousands of television viewers of documentaries and dive
programs. Certainly allowing many people to see sharks in situ is good publicity for these animals and
helps to dispel the 'man-eater' stereotype. But are entrained sharks performing on cue really exhibiting an
more natural behaviour than we see in trained circus animals? Does swimming in circles and gnawing on
a frozen 'chum ball' or taking bait fishes off a spear or out of the hand or mouth of a human constitute
'sharks in the wild'? Public aquaria offer basically the same view of sharks without fostering the 'eating
machine' image enhanced by frenzied feeding.
It appears that the pendulum has completely swung as a newly restructured shark image emerged in the
shark-feeding dive community. Sharks have been transformed from being blood-thirsty man-eaters to
playful puppies by some of those most closely tied to shark-feeding operations. As often is the case, the
truth lies somewhere in between these two extremes. Based on the safety, ecological, social and
conservation considerations noted above, I believe that scientific/ conservation endorsement of most
shark-feeding attractions is unwise. On balance, it appears that sharks have more to lose than to gain by
I thank Matthew Callahan, Kevin Johns, Robert Robins and Franklin Snelson for providing constructive
comments on this contribution.
Nelson, D.R., Johnson, R.R., McKibben, J.N., and Pittenger, G.G. 1986. Agonistic
attacks on divers and submersibles by gray reef sharks, Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos:
antipredatory or competitive? Bull. Mar. Sci. 38(1): 68-88.
George H. Burgess,
Florida Museum of Natural History,
University of Florida,
Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
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Shark feeding provides virtually the only guaranteed means of experiencing shark encounters 'in the wild'
in most parts of the world. As such, this is now a well-established activity world-wide and in huge demand
from diving tourists. Its economic value to some coastal communities is therefore large and rising. Shark *
tourism is also a very important factor supporting policies and legislation in favour of shark conservation
(the value of individual sharks to local economies is demonstrably so very much higher and more
sustainable than the income from shark fisheries). It is definitely here to stay..
However, the rise in numbers of operators and tourists engaged in this activity is now being accompanied
by increased concern over the conduct of these activities. As George Burgess points out, unregulated or
poorly-managed shark feeding operations have the potential to result in harm to divers and other water-
users, to shark populations, to the marine environment, and ultimately, to local economies heavily reliant
on income derived from tourism associated with a much wider range of water uses. It is particularly
alarming that these concerns are now being voiced by some individuals who were involved in the
development and promotion of shark feeding activities, as well as by scientists and conservationists with a
long history of studying the problems associated with human/wildlife interactions.
On a more positive note, some countries are now beginning to regulate shark diving activities. This
newsletter presents examples from Australia and South Africa. However, it is vitally important that such
initiatives are extended to other countries as a matter of urgency, and are strictly enforced. Tourist ' -
industries and governments must recognize that this is vital to their own interests and their coastal -
economies as well as to the future well-being of the tourists and the shark populations on which they are
We also report the closure of the Philippines whale shark fishery. This was showing a classic pattern of
expanding effort as a result of the high value of whale shark products in international trade, combined with
an apparent decline in catches. One stimulus for the closure of this fishery was the high potential value of
the species for dive tourism, as demonstrated by the booming Western Australian whale shark dive trade.
WWF is now working on developing whale shark ecotourism in the area where the fishery was formerly
under way. However, some observers have expressed concern that, while the benefits of the whale shark
fishery were undoubtedly flowing directly to local fishing communities (albeit likely in a unsustainable
manner), it is difficult to ensure that all coastal communities formerly hunting whale sharks will be able to
participate in and benefit from ecotourism to the same extent. The problems posed by the remote nature
of many of the villages, the lack of communications and other infrastructure and other factors make this
impossible to achieve. Additionally, whale shark hunting, which replaced traditional whaling in the area,
was a very important community activity, playing a significant cultural role in these villages. Ecotourism
developments cannot replace this. Hopefully the lessons learnt in many countries following the closure of
coastal whaling and attempts to turn to whale watching instead will help such communities to weather *
Finally, a word of caution about the economics which encourage the replacement of commercial and
subsistence fishing for sharks by dive tourism or recreational fishing. While a dead shark may be worth
only tens of dollars, and a live shark on a diving reef perhaps thousands, these figures are not comparable
if the fisherman who has forgone his $10 is unable to benefit from the $1,000 income which flows to a
tourist development owned by a company possibly not even registered in the same country or employing
staff from local villages. Conservation ultimately fails without local support.
Nature Conservation Bureau, 36 Kingfisher Court
Hambridge Road, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 5SJ, UK.
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Recreational fishing and conservation
Carl Safina, Living Oceans Program, National Audubon Society, *- *
In most parts of the world, fishing is a business or subsistence activity. Where recreational fishing occurs,
sharks are more likely to be considered pests than targets. Big game fishers hated sharks because they
attacked 'premier' glamour species like marlin and swordfish, whose struggles at the end of the line were
ended if a shark cut them in half thereby spoiling all the fun.
In most parts of the world there are now too few big sharks to pose much of a problem. And because
directed billfishing itself is deteriorating in some places, sharks have been promoted from underdog to
game fish status. In a few places, recreational fishers exert lots of time and money chasing sharks. The
east coast of North America between Cape Hatteras and Cape Cod, for example, may well host more
directed recreational fishing for large sharks than anywhere in the world, and in the southern US states,
'rec' fishers catch lots of small coastal sharks.
Recreational fishers blame commercial fishing for the drastic declines in virtually all species of large
sharks in certain regions. Their enmity is not misplaced, but neither is recreational fishing wholly
exonerated from causing regional declines for some species. Compelling evidence exists that before fin
prices created market incentive for killing most sharks, recreational fishing was driving declines of some
important species. The fin trade sharpened those declines and caused deep depletions, including
(according to strong anecdotal evidence) recent depletions in regions far from recreational pressures. For
their part, recreational have gone largely to catch-and-release for most large species. But recreational
fishers should not underestimate their continued killing power for certain sharks along certain coasts, and
should seek to reduce their own impacts as much as possible.
For example, off the north-east US, where recreational fishers release virtually all large coastal species
and blue sharks, they still keep virtually all makos and threshers. Female makos mature at around 700
pounds, i.e. almost every single mako taken is a juvenile, and the continental shelf where the fishing
occurs is the nursery area. Many tournaments and individual captains now have voluntary minimum size
requirements of around 100-pounds. Such a minimum size should be required by law. This size, while
arbitrary relative to size at maturity, improves the yield-per-recruit, and, most importantly, allows many *
makos to get another chance at survival for one more year, increasing their chances of surviving to
maturity. n l
Further, even for released individuals, standard recreational fishing practices are not best for ensuring
post-release survival. Recreational fishers usually allow sharks to 'run with the bait' before hooking them.
This assures more hookups. It also assures more gut-hooked animals. Virtually all recreational releases of
large fishes involve cutting the leader, leaving animals with hooks in the gut, throat, or moving mouth
parts. Such imbedded hooks can cause serious eventual injury or death, as in all likelihood can cut-off
wire leaders that continually rub against skin. New de-hooking tools (e.g. made by De-Hooker Inc., +1-
800-772-5804) allow hook removal for even gut-hooked sharks, and should be standard equipment.
Large sharks are not well equipped to take the kind of pressure directed fisheries even recreational
fisheries can apply in certain regions. Terrestrial big game hunters must often pay large fees for the
privilege of killing an animal, and often the annual individual take is limited to one or two per person per
season. This would be appropriate for sharks. Where shark fishing is popular, I believe fishers on private
boats should be required to obtain a licence or permit that limits the take to one per boat per year. For
charter boats that take paying passengers out daily, the party should perhaps be required to pay ahead of
time for a licence entitling them to kill a large shark in the event that they catch a desirable individual.
Otherwise, release would be mandatory.
Commercial fisheries remain problematic. But recreational fisheries also contribute significantly to shark
mortality in some regions. The recreational community can do more for shark conservation if they choose.
National Audubon Society,
Living Oceans Program,
550 South Bay Avenue,
Islip, NY 11751, USA
SSG Fund~ii r'^ngTni^^^
Whale shark management programme, Western Australia
Jeremy Colman, Department of Conservation and Land ,
Management, Western Australia
The Western Australian Government recently released a management programme that will ensure
ecological sustainability for one of the most important nature-based tourism activities in the region whale
shark interactions at Ningaloo Reef.
A seasonal aggregation of whale sharks occurs in the waters of the Ningaloo Marine Park from March to
May each year and this predictable occurrence has led to the development of a small but expanding
tourist industry, focusing on human/whale shark interactions. The whale shark is a protected species
within all Western Australian waters. From 1993 onwards, commercial whale shark tourism within the
marine park has been managed by the Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM)
through a system of controls, including the licensing of a limited number of operators for whale shark
interaction tours. Currently, there is some demand for an increase in the number of interaction licences,
over and above the 14 existing licences.
It is unclear whether increased tourism pressure is presently generating any short or long-term detrimental
impacts on individual sharks or the group as a whole. The natural variability in whale shark abundance
and distribution, the reasons for the aggregation at Ningaloo Reef, and the carrying capacity of the
industry are all unknown. Consequently, evidence of any impacts is difficult to obtain and interpret.
With the limited information currently available a precautionary approach to management has been
adopted, and a restriction on the number of commercial interaction licences has been adopted as the main
strategy for managing tourism pressure until more information is available from current and future
The management programme provides an overview of the information available on the biology and
ecology of the whale shark and describes the reasons for management. It establishes management
objectives, reviews current management controls and compliance monitoring procedures, and describes
future management actions. It also details the research necessary to gain a better understanding of the
animal's population biology, ecology and the natural variability of its environment, and the monitoring
required to determine if any impacts are occurring as a result of increasing tourism pressure.
The objectives of the programme are, in the short-term, to improve the management of whale shark
interactions, and in the long-term, to provide the scientific basis to determine if the management strategies
need to be modified to minimise any impacts.
Once more detailed information is available and appropriate monitoring programmes are implemented it
will be possible to better ensure that whale shark populations, particularly at Ningaloo, are not being
subjected to an unacceptable level of disturbance, and that the development of whale shark tourism in
Western Australia's marine reserves is sustainable and equitable.
The policies and management controls contained in the programme are likely to provide a model for other
whale shark interaction activities that are developing elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific region. Philippines
^H whale shark interaction activities that are developing elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific region. Philippines a^^^^^^^^
government authorities, working with the World Wide Fund for Nature (Philippines), are formulating
appropriate guidelines for tourism operations currently targeting the aggregation of whale sharks in the
waters of Sorsogon Province, based on the Ningaloo 'code of conduct'. In March 1998, fisheries legislation
was introduced banning the killing of whale sharks and the trade in whale shark meat and other products
anywhere in the Philippines (see Shark News 11 article Closure of Philippines whale shark
Swimming with Whale
Sharks The Code of
To ensure that you have a safe,
enjoyable experience and to prevent
the animals from being harmed or
disturbed, the following code of
conduct applies when interacting with
Swimmers and Divers must
attempt to touch or ride on a
restrict the normal movement
or behaviour of the shark
approach closer than 3
metres from the head or
body, and 4 metres from the
undertake flash photography
use motorised propulsion
ii Department of Conservation and Land Management
Figure: The Western Australian Code of Conduct for swimmers.
The above is summarised from: Colman, J.G. 1997. Whale shark interaction management, with
particular reference to Ningaloo Marine Park. Wildlife Management Programme No. 27,
Department of Conservation and Land Management, Perth, Western Australia.
J. G. Colman, Marine Conservation Branch,
Department of Conservation and Land Management,
47 Henry Street, Fremantle, Western Australia 6160.
Tel: 61-8 9432 5110; fax: 61-8 9430 5408;
Management of the US Atlantic
recreational shark catch
Steve Branstetter, Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Development
Foundation, Tampa, Florida, USA
Many times, when the general public thinks of fishery management, controlling commercial fisheries come
to mind, but for many fish stocks in the US Atlantic recreational fishing effort must be considered as well;
sharks are no exception. In the US Atlantic, the recreational and commercial fisheries are governed by
Total-Allowable-Catch (TAC), which is allocated between the two user groups. Whereas there are detailed
records for commercial landings to close the fishery when their portion of the total quota is reached, no
system exists to rapidly monitor recreational fishing; total annual landings are not known for some time.
Additionally, recreational weight quotas are redefined as daily or trip bag (creel) limits, where anglers are
allowed to keep so many fish daily (with an assumed average weight), with the intention of keeping the
fishery open year-round. Unfortunately, given the amount of angler effort, the current bag limits have
allowed this sector to more than double its allowable take since the implementation of the US Atlantic
federal shark fishery management plan. Management needs to address the issue of recreational take
because as shark stocks recover, recreational catch rates will increase, plus more anglers will enter the
fishery, thus increasing the take even more.
The popularity of recreational shark fishing in the US
Atlantic region increased dramatically during the 1970s
(Hoff and Musick 1990, NMFS 1993). The fishery was a
trophy fishery targeting extremely large sharks, and was -
prosecuted from both for-hire and private boat platforms.
These trophy anglers have declined substantially in
number over the past 20 years, being replaced by anglers
who target (or incidentally catch) smaller sharks. This shift
stems in part from the declining numbers of large sharks,
which in turn was caused by the heavy fishing pressure
from the trophy anglers (NMFS 1997). The current bulk of
the small coastal catches probably occurs from anglers
on headboats (for-hire vessels carrying nine or more L
passengers), whereas large shark catches come from Trophy anglers were partly the cause of the
private or charter (for-hire vessels carrying six decline in US Atlantic stocks of large sharks
passengers or less) boats (Fisher and Ditton 1993). over the past 20 years.
Photo: John Stevens
Another factor in this shift from targeting large trophy fish
to catching smaller sharks may stem from a changing attitude about shark fishing by the general US
public. For example, during the trophy fishing period, it was generally considered that 'a good shark was a
dead shark', and anglers who landed large sharks often received substantial positive local media attention
By the end of the 1980s, the populace was embracing a greater conservation ethic, and media attention of
a large shark landing began generating negative reactions from the public. More and more anglers have
IONS MEETINGS STAR
WS SITE LINK'
CITES and FAO
of Action (IPOA)
IUCN/SSC Red Li
incorporated catch-and-release into their fishing methods (or simply attempted to avoid negative reactions
of landing large trophy sharks).
There is little information available on the characteristics of anglers who target or catch sharks. For the
Gulf of Mexico, Fisher and Ditton (1993) suggested that tournament anglers who fished for sharks could
serve as a proxy for shark fishers in general. That group tended to fish >50 days per year, had nine years
of fishing experience, and approximately half fished from a boat less than ten miles from shore. Fisher and
Ditton (1993) estimated that 215,000 private boat trips were taken in the Gulf of Mexico in 1989
specifically targeting sharks. According to them, these specialised anglers began shark fishing after
several years of saltwater fishing experience was gained, and nearly a third of the anglers indicated that if
they could not fish for sharks, there would not be an acceptable substitute.
Assessing catch levels
Evaluating the intensity of recreational catch is difficult because different sources (Anderson 1990; Hoff
and Musick 1990; Scott et al. 1996) report different values, even though each author worked with the
same database. For example, for 1986, Anderson (1990) noted 10,000 t (metric tons round weights)
were caught, Hoff and Musick (1990) stated 49,691 t were caught and over 12,000 t were killed, but Scott
et al. (1996) indicated approximately 6,000 t were caught. However, in general, catches for sharks
(excluding dogfish) rose from just over 2,000 t in 1965, to an average that fluctuated around 8,200 t
throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, peaked at over 10,000 t in 1986, and subsequently declined during
the 1990s to 2,000-2,500 t.
Scott et al. (1996) also provided a breakdown according to the various species categories of the current
management strategy. This indicated that the annual recreational catch of large coastal dropped from an
average of 3,750 t in the 1980's to about 1,100 t annually in the 1990's, annual pelagic catches dropped
from approximately 2,000 t in the 1980's to about 750 t annually in the 1990s, and small coastal catches
increased from almost 300 t annually during the 1980's to nearly 500 t annually in the 1990s.
Recreational landings differ by geographic and environmental regions (Table 1). Catches (in numbers of
fish) in the north-east US (Maine to Cape Hatteras) are dominated by mako species, thresher species,
blue sharks, and a selected group of demersal carcharhinids (primarily sandbar and dusky sharks),
whereas catches in the south are dominated by sandbar, blacktip, and Atlantic sharpnose shark. Even
though the northeast and mid-Atlantic region has long been considered a strong focal point of recreational
shark fishing, the catch north of Cape Hatteras pales in comparison to the heavier catch (and fishing
effort) in the south-eastern regions, where the blacktip shark dominates the large coastal catch.
Table 1. Recreational catch of sharks (numbers of fish) in the US Atlantic
region for 1994-1995 combined (from Scott et al. 1996).
Other small coastal
*Includes sharks identified to family or genus only, i.e. 'carcharhinid family' or 'requiem shark'.
Regulating the fishery
Monitoring recreational landings is difficult; controlling them is even more so. Total-allowable-catches
SSG Fund~ii r'^ngTni^^^
(TACs) for the recreational fishery are based on a weight quota which is translated into bag limits that
should, in concept, allow recreational fishing to continue throughout the year without exceeding the TAC.
The initial bag limits were set at four large coastal/pelagic sharks per boat per trip (day), plus five small
coastal sharks per person per trip (day). According to the landings in 1994 and 1995 (Table 2), the
recreational fishery generally doubled its large coastal TAC, and met its pelagic TAC. (The 302 t landing in
1994 is very low compared to other years; as noted above, average pelagic shark landings during the
early 1990s were about 750 t.)
Table 2. Estimated landings versus the TAC (in metric tons carcass weight) for
the first two years after the FMP was implemented (from Scott et al. 1996).
Large Coastal Pelagic Small Coastal Unknown spp. (n
Year Landings (TAC) Landings (TAC) Landings Landings mgt)
1994 849 (490) +73% 302 (980) -69% 462 121 214
1995 1,064 (490) +117% 1,384 (980) +41% 552 44 177
Note: Scott (1996) and NMFS (1997), citing Scott et al. (1996), indicated that approximately 780 t of
large coastal were taken annually in 1994 and 1995 by recreational fishers; however if one multiplies
the numbers of sharks landed times the average weight for each species as listed in Scott et al.
(1996), one derives the values above. No matter which value is used, it greatly exceeds the recreational
allocation of 490 t for the timeframe.
To reduce mortality on the large coastal stock, in 1997 NMFS halved the TAC for both recreational and
commercial fisheries. The large coastal recreational TAC was lowered from 490 t to 250 t; the pelagic TAC
was not altered (NMFS 1997). To achieve this reduction, bag limits were reduced. Whereas the bag limit
had been four large coastal/pelagic sharks per boat per trip, and five small coastal sharks per person per
day, it was restricted to two sharks of any category (i.e. adding small coastal) per boat per day, plus two
Atlantic sharpnose sharks per person per day. Obviously, however, given that the 'old' bag limit was
allowing a take that doubled the large-coastal TAC, simply halving the bag limit will still allow excessive
takes in this fishery.
Economics of recreational fishing
Economic information on the recreational shark fishing effort in the US Atlantic is limited. Based on the
1977 recreational fishing efforts, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (1980) estimated that
charter fishing for sharks in the Gulf of Mexico generated expenditures of roughly $800,000 in charter
fees, and approximately $840,000 in non-fee expenditures in Gulf coast communities. As for non-charter
shark fishing during the same timeframe, the Council estimated that roughly $1.0 million was spent in
coastal communities by shark fishers; this figure did not include economic-base multipliers which
potentially could double the magnitude of the values. Total economic impact due to shark fishing in the
Gulf of Mexico in 1977 was approximately $3.5 million, which generated approximately $1.0 million in
personal income and 113 jobs in coastal communities.
Fisher and Ditton (1993) estimated that the average shark angler spent $197 per fishing trip. Based on an
estimate of 215,000 shark fishing trips by recreational fishers in the Gulf of Mexico in 1989, a total of $42
million was spent on shark fishing in the region, with a consumer surplus of nearly $24 million for a total
value of $66 million. Based on Marine Recreational Fishery Statistics Survey estimates of the numbers of
sharks caught and landed in the Gulf of Mexico for 1989, Fisher and Ditton suggested that the value was
approximately $158-$183/shark ($101-$117 equivalent value and $57-$66 consumer surplus).
A word of warning one must use caution when attempting to use economic numbers to make judgement,
as to what form of resource utilisation has greater overall 'value'. Whereas recreational expenditures
usually represent an angler's total expenses for a fishing trip (including fishing and non-fishing
expenditures), the commercial values are usually reported as the ex-vessel selling price of the product.
The former would represent total economic benefit to the local community, with the latter representing only
economic value to the individual commercial fisher. Ex-vessel value obviously does not include the many
expenditures (fishing and non-fishing) by a commercial fisher which also produce economic benefit to the
local community. Direct comparisons of numbers that represent such very different economic 'value' are
In part, the oversight of the excessive landings may stem from a miscalculation. NMFS (1997) states:
"Since implementation of the FMP, approximately 70%-86% of the large coastal recreational quota of
1,230 t has been taken annually...". The large coastal quota wasn't 1,230 t; 1,230 t was the sum of the
large coastal and pelagic TACs combined, and the large coastal landings divided by this 'combination
TAC' equates to those percentages. In reality, landings had exceeded the large coastal TAC
approximately two-fold in both years. Since the bag limit is an aggregate bag limit, including large coastal
and pelagics, one could consider the landings and TACs in combination. Even if one sums the large
coastal and pelagic landings and compares that to the aggregate 1,230 t TAC, the landings still generally
meet or exceed the TAC; especially if the 302 t pelagic landing in 1994 is an underestimate. Obviously,
the bag limits did not restrict the fishery to the TAC, thus the current bag limits need additional reductions.
Having an appropriate bag limit will become more important as shark stocks rebound and become more
abundant, and catches increase. As more recreational anglers re-enter the fishery, the take will also
Anderson, E.D. 1990. Estimates of large shark catches in the western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, 1960-
1986. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS 90:443-454.
Fisher, M.R., and R.B. Ditton. 1993. A social and economic characterization of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico
recreational shark fishery. Mar. Fish. Rev. 55(3):21-27.
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. 1980. Draft fishery management plan for the shark and othel
elasmobranch fishery of the Gulf of Mexico. Tampa, FL. var. pag.
Hoff, T.B., and Musick, J.A. 1990. Western North Atlantic shark fishery management problems and
informational requirements. In Elasmobranchs as living resources: advances in the biology, ecology,
systematics, and the status of the fisheries (H.L. Pratt Jr., S.H. Gruber, and T. Taniuchi, eds.), p. 117-137.
John Wiley and Sons, N.Y.
NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service). 1993. Fishery management plan for sharks of the
Atlantic Ocean. var. pag.
NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service). 1997. 1997 Shark Evaluation Annual Report. NOAA,
NMFS, Southeast Fish. Sci. Center, Miami, FL. 11pp.
Scott, G.P. 1996. Updated analysis of recent trends in catch rates of some Atlantic sharks. 1996 NMFS
Stock Evalution Workshop document SB-II-17: var. pag. NMFS Southeast Fish. Sci. Center, Miami, FL.
Scott, G., P.J. Phares, B. Slater. 1996. Recreational catch, average size and effort information for sharks
in US Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico waters. 1996 NMFS Stock Evaluation Workshop document SB-lll-5:var.
pag. NMFS Southeast Fish. Sci. Center, Miami, FL.
Steve Branstetter, Program Director,
Gulf & S. Atl. Fish. Develop. Fndn., Suite 997, Lincoln Center,
5401 W. Kennedy, Tampa, FL 33609, USA.
Fax 813-286-8261, email: email@example.com
ISearch Fishes i=
A craze for shark-cage diving has its dangers ... for
Ellen Bartlett, Johannesburg, South Africa
The bartender from Miami is standing tall on the port side of the boat, face to the wind, eyes in a happy
squint in the glare of the morning sun. "There's bungee jumping, there's jumping out of an airplane and
there's this," he is saying excitedly. "This is it. I saw the sign at the airport and I said 'I gotta do this'." He
laughs, a high nervous giggle. "If you told me five days ago I'd be in South Africa diving for sharks, I'd 'a
told you you're crazy."
But here he is, in a boat bound
for Dyer Island off the Cape
coast, where he will don diving
gear and descend into an
underwater cage for a close
encounter with Carcharodon
carcharias, the great white
shark. He has paid R450 for the '
The boat is piloted by Andre
Hartman, former Springbok spear
fisherman turned diving
entrepreneur. It is a 7m twin-
hulled open fishing boat, painted
a tired and peeling red. What little
standing room there is is
occupied by a huge wire cylinder Great white shark Carcharodon carcharias investigates a metal
with a trap door at the top the cage. Photo Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch
shark cage. Passengers fit
around it as best they can.
The mood is giddy. "Is this a will you're writing?" someone asks. "This is right up there," says another, in a
reverent tone. "Right up there for stupid, you mean," he is corrected. Could be.
For as long as it has existed about three years the Cape's shark-cage diving industry has been
described as a disaster waiting to happen; tales abound of inexperienced operators taking unsuspecting
clients out in ill-equipped vessels, dropping them into shark-infested waters like so much bait.
The Department of Sea Fisheries was so swamped by complaints last year most from diving operators
complaining about their competitors it decided to investigate. The department concluded it was a "user-
group conflict", a matter for the diving operators to sort out, but agreed to mediate. The result has been a
much-lauded code of conduct, to be signed by operators and binding them to meet minimum standards of
safety, competence and etiquette. It's good news for the human element in shark cage diving. But what
IMG ALRY SUHFORD RAIZTOSMETNSSA
R IL GCL JSTF RKD NTE E S ST I K
about the sharks?
"The problem, among other things, is that more people want to see white sharks than there are white
sharks," says Len Compagno, a leading shark taxonomist and head of shark research at the South African
How shark-cage diving is affecting the white sharks of Dyer Island is a matter of debate. Not surprisingly,
those in the shark-watch business say the impact is negligible. But marine biologists who work with the
sharks disagree, and say that such dallying could have far-reaching consequences for man as well as
beast. They point out that in 1991 South Africa became the first country in the world to declare the white
shark a protected species, but that it has done little since then to ensure its protection. Reports have been
rife of sharks being brought too close to the boats, caught in netting and lines, and cut by the boats'
Marcel Krouse, biologist with the Department of Sea Fisheries, acknowledges the problems and the
protected status of the white shark. "You are not allowed to injure, harm, harass a great white shark. But
there is nothing that stops you from diving around a shark. You can't prove it's harassment if you throw a
fish over the side."
Others contend that the disturbance is of a more subtle nature.
Mark Marks is a Californian who came to South Africa in 1994 to conduct research into the behavioral
ecology of the great white shark, specifically the sharks that congregate around Dyer Island. He had to
abandon his research, because he could no longer regard the Dyer Island as 'natural' shark habitat. "I was
trying to look at the animals in their natural context," he says. The advent of shark-cage diving, the
presence of the boats, the bait used to attract the sharks, made it impossible for him to continue.
"It's not uncommon to see three, four, five boats at a time in the channel," he says. "You're talking about
an area only about 120 m at its narrowest, and 600 m to 700 m long. It's also a fragile ecological habitat.
That seems to be missed repeatedly. You would be hard-pressed to get any of the operators to voluntarily
admit that their presence disturbs the animals there. But how can it not?"
For much of the morning, Hartman, his crew of one, and his eight clients are alone in the channel. Nor do
there seem to be any sharks. Having dropped anchor, Hartman opens a cooler, containing a lump of meat
the size of a soccer ball, marbled pinkish gray. "Mako shark liver," he says. He cuts off several slabs, ties
them up in scraps of netting and throws them into the water.
Shark bait is known as chum; it varies from dead seals the optimum bait, but generally not used for fear
of upsetting the tourists to ground-up pilchards, tossed overboard to form a long, greasy slick in the
water. "I got a white shark liver once," Hartman says, evading the question of how he obtained the liver of
a protected species. "White sharks don't like their own liver; they're not cannibals."
When still no shark appears, Hartman throws out a small white plastic surfboard. The use of a child's
beach toy to act as a shark attractor raises a few eyebrows on board. Hartman shrugs. In any case, it
does not appear to work.
When the first white shark appears, it is from the opposite direction. The shark ignores the surfboard and
heads for the boat.
It pokes its head out of the water, has a look around. Swims away and then returns, nudging the stern. A
youngster, Hartman says, less than 3 m long.
All excitement now, the divers yank on their wetsuits, ready themselves for the real adventure. One by
one, they perch on the starboard rail, then clamber down into the cage and disappear into the green water.
The shark plays its role perfectly; it swims around the cage, zooming in for close-ups, disappearing into
the distance, reappearing again.
The view is just as good from above. The shark politely divides its time between the deep and the
shallows, surfacing at the rail, close enough to touch. There are enough sightings that it is arguable
whether there is one fast-moving shark, or two sharks, or three.
Once everyone has had a turn in the cage, the divers regroup onboard, satisfied customers. They will go
SSG Fund~ii r'^ngTni^^^
home happy. But the question that remains is what these encounters mean to the sharks.
Theo Ferreira, a former great white shark hunter turned self-styled shark conservationist and "white
sharkaholic," is one who believes they mean trouble. "You've got people putting chum into the water,
stimulating the sharks, feeding them. You've got people in cages down there. So the sharks have been
fed, stimulated and conditioned to see human beings as food-related," he says.
"You're going to have a problem developing where they lose their instinctive and natural cautiousness and
fear around humans. Common sense tells me you could have a situation where sharks start preying on
humans." Ferreira cites the recent disappearance of a spear fisherman off the Cape coast, believed to be
the result of a white shark attack.
Though Marks believes such talk is speculative, he calls it a potential can of worms. "Sharks have always
pitched up near fishing boats," he says. "Like any other predator, if it gets an easy meal, it'll come up and
Hartman's partner John Botha calls the possibility of cage diving causing attacks "rubbish". "You must
understand something," he says. "Sharks are a fact of life. It's like driving through a game reserve.
Theoretically, in Kruger National Park, if there's an elephant around, it can stomp on you. It's the same
thing with sharks. I don't see the shark physically wanting to take a diver out of the cage. Anything is
possible, but that's like lightning hitting you."
Before the possible becomes probable, Cape Nature Conservation has stepped in. Dyer Island has been
provincial reserve since 1988, designated to protect rare birds that nest on the island. The department is
simply extending the Dyer Island reserve to include the waters around the island, with effect from April 1
1998. From that date, access to the channel will be by permit only. The department is still working out
details of the permitting process, but promises it will be strict, and that the numbers of operators will be
"Having seen the mounting problems with white shark diving operations, with them working within a limited
space in the channel, we were fearful that all this actually could lead to some disaster," says Duncan
Heard, manager of the region responsible for Dyer Island. "It won't be a free-for-all any more."
The decision has been welcomed by biologists, though Ferreira, for one, is adopting a wait-and-see
attitude. "The commercial guy, he doesn't care a continental about the law," he says. "They're going to fine
a loophole. At the end of the day this is becoming a multi-million rand industry. These guys aren't going to
let the government stop them from making their money."
Ellen Bartlett is a writer living in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Her article first appeared in the Johannesburg Mail and Guardian, 6 March 1998.
Shark cage diving in South Africa sustainable
Marcel Kroese, Sea Fisheries Research Institute, South Africa
Shark cage diving started around 1990-1991 at Dyer Island, Gansbaai, situated close to the southern-
most tip of Africa. Initially used for research observations, cage diving developed into a funding generating
venture. Other individuals noticed a niche market and several started offering the same service to tourists.
Commercial cage diving has since spread to other areas of southern Africa, Mossel Bay in 1993, and most
recently False Bay in 1996. At present there are ten cage diving operators, taking out an estimated 4,000
Initially the cage diving industry was embroiled in user conflict issues with commercial fishermen and
abalone divers utilising the same area. Additionally, conflict flared up within the cage dive fraternity, and
between cage dive operators and scientists studying white sharks. Unscrupulous behaviour of some
operators led to incidents where sharks were injured and reported flaunting of small craft safety
regulations led to the reputation of shark cage operators as 'cowboys'.
The fledgling industry realized this reputation was
adversely influencing their business and initiated a '
White Shark Cage Diving Association. The express
aim was to improve the standards of the cage diving
as well as protecting the white sharks. It was also
realized that maximum number of operators had
been reached, therefore there would be limited entry
into the cage diving operations.
White shark. 1989 by Sid Cook.
A sub-committee of the Chondrichthyan Working All rights reserved.
Group of the Department of Sea Fisheries was formed
to investigate the user group conflict and the cage diving operations. The resultant extensive consultative
forum of user groups, cage diving industry and scientists eventually led to a code of conduct and an
operational management plan for shark cage diving in South Africa.
Provisional regulations allow for a geographically restricted permit system, closed areas, and range
restrictions. All permit holders must be signatories of the Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct makes *
recommendations on the level of technical training operators need, equipment standards in terms of
cages, and safety gear. The specific chum types, quantities allowable per day, bait presentation and shark
handling are also outlined.
The provisional regulations became available at the end of June, following their review by the Department
of Sea Fisheries. They will be presented to the industry and other usergroups at a meeting in July, and are
not expected to be Gazetted until later in the year.
The cage diving issue is not out of the woods yet. A recent spate of six attacks on surfers and divers in the
space of five weeks, the highest since 1994, has led to accusations that the cage diving industry has
either habituated or excited sharks into attacking swimmers and surfers. However, only one such attack
has occurred within 150 km of a cage diving site. Other environmental factors such as the proximity of
sardine (pilchard) schools in the vicinity and murky water close to river mouths were present, negating the
link between cage diving and shark attacks.
Sea Fisheries Research Institute,
Private Bag X2,
Rogge Bay 8012,
Cape Town, South Africa.
with sharchks' sensitive electro-receptors, creating an unpleasant but harmelections...
Testing the Shark POD
Valerie Taylor, New South Wales, Australia
by the Natal Sharks Board to repel sharks. The invention produced a pulsing electronic field that interfered
with sharks' sensitive electro-receptors, creating an unpleasant but harmless irritation. I
Our first tests took place in the Durban Sea World shark tank, in South Africa. The director of the Natal
Sharks Board, Graeme Charter, was interested in having a diver testing the repeller against potentially
dangerous sharks, underwater.
At first we were both sceptical: in the past we had tested many different shark repelling inventions. With the
exception of the power head (an explosive device on a spear), which killed the shark, and the steel mesh
suit, which worked well with small to medium sized sharks, nothing else tested by us had worked. *
Along with two raggedtooth sharks Carcharias taurus and a huge sawfish Pristis sp., three large bull o
Zambezi sharks Carcharhinus leucas were living in the Durban tank. I was to test the device against
the bull sharks, who showed a keen interest in our presence. I stood against the wall while Ron, with his
back against a cage, filmed from the centre of the tank. Every time I switched on the electronic repeller the
shark would flick away, returning to normal behaviour when the device was turned off, or it had swum out of
range. (The radiating field has an effective range of 4-5 metres.) The most dramatic results occurred when I
delayed activating the device until the shark was at its closest (1 metre away). This produced a very rapid s s T
departure. When the device was constantly working, the sharks stayed further away. They would retreat
rather casually to the far end of the tank as soon as they detected any irritation. During our later
experiments in the tank, we had the bull sharks, jaws agape about to take a fish, suddenly jerking away
when they encountered the pulse.
It was pretty exciting stuff, so exciting that we decided we should try the repeller against white sharks
Carcharodon carcharias in the open ocean. Ron felt that would be the ultimate test, stopping a great
white when it is homing in on a meal. If the device could turn a great white, he felt it would probably turn all
other shark species.
Ron chose an island with a large sea lion colony for the white shark tests. Along with shark experts from the
Natal Sharks Board, who had invented the repeller, we travelled to Dyer Island near Cape Town. Leonard
Compagno, the worlds' most knowledgeable shark expert, accompanied us.
We attracted sharks almost immediately there were baits in the water. Our surface testing, which consisted
of floating out a bait, then activating the electric field as the shark was about to take it, proved so successful
that we decided we could dive and film these sharks without the protection of a cage (we did not have one
at the time). Two South African divers accompanied us, one as a safety diver and the other as second
cameraman. We spent two weeks working with the Dyer Island great whites.
^^^^^^^H ^^^^fr*J ~~I 0 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
A free-swimming diver, lan Gordon, is lan switches on the Shark POD, and the
approached by a great white shark while shark immediately turns away. Both
his Shark POD is inactive, photographs are video stills taken from the
Taylors' SHARK POD documentary.
So successful was the effect of the repelling device, we were able to do all our underwater filming
swimming free in the water with the sharks. This was something that had never been done before. We felt
invincible after that first dive. There were a dozen or more sharks around, of which five appear on film, and
they all kept their distance.
Following this most successful and exciting experiment, we begin a series of tests with different shark
species back in Australia. Even when the area was baited, the repeller never failed to turn the sharks away.
All these tests were recorded on film.
Based on the success of this early testing, the Natal Sharks Board created a separate company to develop
a repeller suitable for divers to wear as protection while swimming in waters where sharks could be a
problem. At first, we tested a prototype while filming great whites off South Australia. This gave us a great
thrill; once again we found ourselves working outside the cage. The Shark POD (short for Protective
Oceanic Device), as the repeller was now called, continued to work well, never failing to turn the shark
when it came too close. Ron and I decided that a good TV documentary could be made about this latest
testing. It was history in the making; we felt it would be of immense interest to divers and the general public.
After South Australia, we took ourselves into the Coral Sea where we knew we would encounter several
species of sharks. The dive charter boat, "Spoil Sport" loaned us a rubber boat of our own to work from,
well away from the other divers. This proved to be a most interesting and action-packed experience. There
was no shortage of sharks and we would have two or three species circling at a time.
It was during these experiments that we first noticed the sharks' eyes twitching in tune with the electric
pulse emitted by the POD. We also discovered that, unlike the prototypes we had used in our earlier tests,
once the sharks were feeding they showed a serious reluctance to stop even though obviously affected by
the pulse (eyes blinking, mouth twitching, gills cramping). The POD would stop them approaching the baits,
but when turned off to let them get their teeth into the fish, then reactivated, they would not release the
food. This unexpected lack of reaction was a worry, particularly for the inventors back in South Africa. Once
they released the bait, we could keep them from returning, but switch off the POD and they would be back
into the food in seconds.
By now we had done well over 100 separate tests on at least ten different species of shark. It was time to
hunt for that well known 'man eater' of tropical waters, the tiger shark Galeocerdo cuvier.
We travelled to North Queensland where a friend, Shane Down, took us out to work with a group of tiger
sharks he had been studying for several years. The location was a shallow lagoon well off shore, heavily
populated by stingrays, a favourite food of the tiger shark.
The sharks were quickly attracted to our stingray baits. Once they started to feed, we conducted a series of
tests. Marine biologist lan Gordon, a specialist in shark behaviour, assisted with the experiments.
As expected we found the pulse would stop the tigers taking the bait, but turning off the device so the tigers
could started feeding, then reactivating the POD while they had food in their mouths had little effect. They
could not be stopped from feeding once they were on the baits. If the tigers released the bait, even for a
few seconds, the activated POD stopped them continuing to feed. They would circle, obviously wanting to
0S Fundl i
return, but the radiating electric field would keep them away.
During these tests, lemon sharks Negaprion acutidens, a great hammerhead Sphyrna mokarran, a
whaler Carcharhinus amblyrhyncos, and a tawny shark Nebrius ferrugineus came to the baits as
well as the tigers. We had the same experience with all of them. Only the big Queensland grouper
Epinephelus lanceolatus was unaffected. Whether POD was on or off, the big fish continued to eat
some of the bait.
These experiments reinforced our feeling that once a shark starts eating, the desire to feed overrides the
instinct of self preservation. No matter how unpleasant the irritation of a POD, it will not release its meal.
The latest POD is a battery powered device which generates a pulsing electric field between two
electrodes. One terminal is on the diver's tank and the other on the diver's fin. Sharks have ultra-sensitive
electro-receptors with which they can detect the minute electric fields generated in the muscles of marine
life. The pulsing, radiating fields around the POD irritate the sharks' receptors, forcing them to move away.
Humans, along with most other forms of sea life, due to their lack of sensitive electro-receptors, are not
affected by the electric field.
With over 40 years of diving, you would think Ron and I had seen all the amazing things, had all the
greatest adventures, but after making this documentary, I realise we have only just scratched the surface ol
our adventure with the sea and its amazing inhabitants. We did things believed impossible ten years ago
that will probably become commonplace in the next ten months. However, extreme caution is required
when diving with potentially dangerous sharks.
These Shark POD tests, conducted over a period of five years, have been another tiny step towards a
better understanding of that amazing other world that covers two thirds of our planet and I for one feel
privileged to have been given the chance to take it.
Our hour-long documentary SHARK POD (from which the video stills illustrating this article are taken) won
the Jury award at Antibes, in France. It is now screening on television, world-wide.
New South Wales, Australia.
Fax: +61 2 9417 4200
S Search Fishes I S rI
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Closure of Philippines whale shark fishery
Whale sharks have been hunted traditionally (with spears and gaff hooks from small boats) in the Visayas
and Mindanao areas of the Philippines, providing food for local fishing communities. However, the rising
value of whale shark products in other countries (particularly Taiwan, where meat sells for up to US$15/
kg) has stimulated larger harvests over the past seven years. Worryingly, recent catches in these areas
may have fallen by 70%-80%, despite increasing fishing effort.
A new concentration of whale sharks was discovered
in January this year by a local diver in the waters of
Donsol, Bicol region, where they had not previously
been fished. A dozen or more sharks could be
encountered here in a day, without the use of spotter
planes. Monitoring was immediately commenced by a
team from the World Wildlife Fund Philippines,
Silliman University, Hubbs Sea World Research
Institute, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the US Whale shark Rhincodon typus.
National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Photo: Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch
Administration, and the Department of Agriculture.
Some tagging was undertaken (including the attachment of one satellite tag). The team also worked with
local authorities to protect whale sharks in the area (the government of Donsol issued a municipal
resolution to protect the sharks on 9 March), and to increase local revenues through the development of
ecotourism involving whale shark interaction tours, in collaboration with the Provincial Tourism Council.
However, on 12 March, buyers of whale sharks arrived from the Visayas region. Seven sharks were killed
and sold for the export under licence of their meat and fins to Taiwan. WWF-Philippines immediately
expressed concern that the population could be wiped out in just two weeks of intensive fishing,
preventing the establishment of a highly valuable tourist industry. They urged the imposition of a
moratorium on the fishery and trade in Bicol until sufficient data could be gathered on population size,
movement and sustainable use.
News of the plight of the Donsol whale sharks soon reached the Philippines national press. Three days
after an article appeared on the front page of a national newspaper, the government (Department of *
Agriculture) banned the fishery. On 26 March 1998, Fisheries Administrative Order No. 193 was issued
prohibiting the catching, selling, purchasing and possessing, transporting and exporting of whale sharks *
and manta rays (which are also caught in large numbers in the Visayas and Mindanao) throughout the
WWF is currently helping the community in Donsol to cope with the massive visitor influx to their small
town. A programme is being developed for them which will ensure well-managed tourism activities and
protection of the whale shark and its habitat. *
The whale shark season ended abruptly on 22 May this year, but they are expected to return in November
For more information contact: ^0
Mr A.A. Yaptinchay,
23-A Maalindog St.,
U.P. Village, Diliman,
Quezon City 1101, Philippines.
Fax: + 63 2 426 39 27, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The American Zoo
& Aquarium Association:
hs in Public Aquaria
Doug Warmolts, The Columbus Zoo, USA
The American Zoo & Aquarium Association (AZA) consists of over 180 accredited zoological parks and
aquariums in North America. Collectively, AZA institutions reach over 122 million visitors annually. AZA
members support a growing number of cooperative wildlife research and conservation efforts, both
regionally and internationally. In 1995 alone, members initiated or supported over 1,200 conservation
projects in over 60 countries and published 660 articles on wildlife management and biology. Through its
newly reorganised Marine Fishes Taxon Advisory Group (MFTAG), the AZA plans to expand its support of
and participation in elasmobranch conservation. Three examples of on-going programmes by AZA
Waikiki Aquarium shark researcher
Gerald Crow, Brad Wetherbee, and
Chris Lowe from the University of
Hawaii are studying the effect of
fishing control programmes on
shark populations around the main
Hawaiian islands. Their series of
papers (review of shark control,
diet of the tiger shark, and a paper
in preparation on the reproductive
biology of the tiger shark) have
raised awareness of the limits of
our knowledge of shark population
biology. The researchers also
testified at the Hawaii State
Photo:Sea Life Centres, UK.
Legislature to stop a planned sharks C U.
control fishing programme.
The Waikiki Aquarium has served as a vital source of factual information on shark biology. A current
project at the Aquarium is a study of the thyroid gland. This research will determine baseline thyroid
hormone concentrations from healthy and goitred whitetip reef sharks. The project also will investigate
worldwide pathology records of goitred animals from the Registry of tumours of lower vertebrates. Goiters
are one of the most common long-term problems in the husbandry of elasmobranchs in captivity. Although
rare this condition has also been reported from the wild. This project will summarise pathology conditions
and suggest possible solutions to this disease. The paper will be the first comprehensive review of goiters
in elasmobranchs ever conducted.
The Waikiki Aquarium is currently maintaining the following sharks and rays: four blacktip reef sharks
Carcharhinus melanopterus, one zebra shark Stegostoma fasciatum, one brown banded
bamboo shark Chiloscyllium punctatum, and one pelagic ray Dasyatis violacea.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
The exhibits at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) are designed as habitat displays exhibiting fish and
invertebrate communities. The Monterey Bay Habitats exhibit features sevengill sharks Notorynchus
cepedianus, leopard sharks Triakis semifasciata, spiny dogfish Squalus acanthias and big
skate Raja binoculata. The Outer Bay exhibit features soupfin shark Galeorhinus galeus. Almost all
of the other exhibits have elasmobranchs along with teleosts, and some exhibit tanks are dedicated to big
skate and swell shark Ephaloscyllium ventriosum egg cases. MBA maintains a bat ray Myliobatis
californica 'petting pool' that will change in the future to a habitat display exhibiting animals that use
wetlands as nursery grounds.
MBA interprets shark conservation messages, with its education programmes including a shark night for
members and volunteers. The overfishing of shark stocks is interpreted with videos in our auditorium and
also during our kelp forest feeding show.
MBA research on captive elasmobranchs includes looking for new husbandry techniques to allow the
maintenance of blue sharks Prionace glauca on exhibit in the Outer Bay exhibit, as well as deep water
animals such as filetail catsharks Parmaturus xaniurus, and raffish Hydrolagus colliei, to be
featured in a new exhibit on the animals of the Monterey submarine canyon.
Description of mating in the ratfish and an ongoing captive growth study of the pelagic ray have also been
part of the programme. MBA staff are also looking at tooth shedding rates and metabolic rates of the
A captive growth study on the sevengill shark was conducted at MBA in the past (Van Dykhuizen and
Mollet 1992) and now we tag all sevengill sharks that are released from the aquarium due to snout
abrasions, and send the information to California Department of Fish and Game for their pelagic shark
database. MBA also learned that one animal released from the aquarium was at liberty for two years and
also showed homing behaviour, swimming over three hundred miles to the point of original capture. This
incident makes us believe that sevengill sharks may be released back into the wild with good chances of
The Wildlife Conservation Society
The mission of the Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) Fisheries Programs is to generate scientific
information vital to the maintenance, conservation, and recovery of fish populations and the habitats that
support them, and to promote the responsible and sustainable use of fisheries resources.
A critical lack of scientific information, combined with poor and inadequate management policies and
practices, has resulted in widespread overfishing and the severe depletion of oceanic, coastal and
freshwater fish populations around the globe. WCS's Fisheries Programs, based at the Society's Osborn
Laboratories of Marine Sciences (OLMS), seek to address the current fisheries crisis through the
integration of basic and applied research and policy work. Current areas of thematic emphasis include: 1)
quantitative fishery analysis and assessment; 2) bycatch; 3) small-scale fisheries; 4) threatened
freshwater fishes; and 5) coastal sharks and highly migratory pelagic fishes.
Sharks and other ocean giants such as tuna, marlin and swordfish are being depleted at an alarming rate.
While declines of all these species are being driven, in part, by market demands, bycatch remains the
major source of mortality for sharks on a global basis. Many shark species are long-lived, grow slowly,
mature late and produce few offspring, which makes them particularly susceptible to overfishing, and very
slow to recover once depleted. Highly migratory sharks routinely cross national boundaries, yet
international management plans for these species are non-existent. Moreover, there are serious gaps in
data and methodologies needed to assess and manage these populations properly.
WCS's work on sharks integrates several Fisheries Program themes: quantitative assessment, bycatch
and the international aspects of fisheries issues. At present, novel quantitative fishery analysis and
assessment methods are being developed and applied to assist recovery of populations of large coastal
sharks in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, some of which have declined by 80% in the past decade. The
expertise of WCS scientists in developing techniques for reducing bycatch is being applied to shark
bycatch concerns. This year we are testing the feasibility of using satellite telemetry to track sand tiger
sharks and to evaluate the ability of this technique to estimate bycatch survival. A shark research facility at
WCS's Osborn Labs is currently in planning. Through WCS's science, policy and international expertise,
SSG Fund~ii r'^ngTni^^^
and through our work with the Ocean Wildlife Campaign (OWC) a coalition of conservation organizations
dedicated to conservation and restoration of giant ocean fish WCS's Fisheries Programs is working to
effect policy changes that will conserve, restore and manage shark populations both regionally and
Van Dykhuizen, G. and Mollet, H. F. 1992. Growth, age estimation, and feeding of captive sevengill
sharks, Notorynchus cepedianus, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. In: Sharks: Biology and
Fisheries. J.G. Pepperell ed. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 43:297-
9990 Riverside Drive, Box 400,
Powell, Ohio 43065-0400, USA.
Fax: +1 614 645 3465 Email: email@example.com
S Search Fishes I S rS
Elasmobranch research conservation efforts National
Alan D. Henningsen and Kimberly Morris-Zarneke, National
Aquarium in Baltimore, USA
Human populations have profound and often destructive effects on natural habitats worldwide. Zoos and
aquariums have both the capacity and the responsibility to increase public awareness of these issues, and
to implement programmes that connect their institutions to conservation activities.
The National Aquarium in Baltimore (NAIB)
Promotes conservation of elasmobranchs .
through educational programmes for school
... , children, member lectures, and exhibitry.
/ The Aquarium's two major display tanks
for cartilaginous fishes, the 985,000 litre Central
Elasmobranch Exhibit and the 852,000 litre Open
Blue shark Prionace glauca 1989 by Sid Cook. Ocean Exhibit, house ten shark species -
All rights reserved. (23 individuals) and 12 batoid species (79
These exhibits offer visitors a realistic perception of sharks of the region and increases awareness of
shark life history patterns.
NAIB supports elasmobranch conservation through staff involvement with such pioneer groups in
elasmobranch conservation as the American Elasmobranch Society, the Shark Specialist Group of the
IUCN, and the Center for Marine Conservation. The Aquarium supported the 1993 Fishery Management ''
Plan for Sharks in the Atlantic Ocean and the 1997 amendment to reduce fishing quotas for sharks, and
supports development of a conservation plan for the spiny dogfish Squalus acanthias.
The National Aquarium in Baltimore is located near the Chesapeake and Delaware bays, which are
important nursery areas for the sandbar shark Carcharhinus plumbeus, and other migratory coastal
species. For the past 16 years, NAIB has collected elasmobranchs for display using bottom set longlines
in the Delaware Bay. A summary of this work was presented by Henningsen et al. (1996). In addition to i e
capturing animals for display, over 250 sharks have been tagged in conjunction with the National Marine
Fisheries Service Apex Predator Investigation Program. Juvenile sandbar sharks are maintained in
captivity for one year, and then tagged and released into the Delaware Bay. During their stay in captivity,
information is collected on their growth and food intake as well as tag shedding. The work in the Delaware
Bay has also been used to gather data on biology and reproductive physiology (endocrinology). Blood
samples collected from wild-caught sharks are examined for cell morphology, counts and distribution.
There is little clinical information on elasmobranch haematology; these data serve as a reference for
health assessment of the NAIB collection sharks. Information gathered by the National Aquarium in
Baltimore is shared through conference presentations and journal publications.
Henningsen, A., Hecker, B., Hampton, P., and Jones, R.T. 1996. Survey of large coastal sharks in the
Delaware Bay by longline. Proceedings of the 76th Annual Meeting of the American Society
of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, 12th Annual Meeting of the American
Elasmobranch Society, New Orleans, LA, June 13-19. p. 171 (abstract).
Alan D. Henningsen and Kimberly Morris-Zarneke,
Biological Programs, National Aquarium in Baltimore,
Pier 3, 501 E. Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21202, USA.
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Search Fishes Selections...
Shark and ray fisheries in Turkey
Hakan Kabasakal, University of Istanbul, Turkey *
Because of the unusual appearance of sharks and rays, the smell of their meat, and the religious beliefs of
the Turkish people, only limited quantities of these fish are eaten in Turkey. However, recent drastic
reductions in the stocks of traditional commercially important sea fishes mean that chondrichthyan fishes *
are now actively being considered as new opportunities for fisheries development.
In Turkey, the main fishing areas for sharks and rays are
in the Black Sea and the northern Aegean. Fishermen use
otter trawls, purse seines, bottom long-lines and shark
nets. The shark nets used by fishermen are a form of gill
net. Combinations of 12 to 20 of these nets are set on the
bottom. Each net is 200 m long by 6 m deep, with a mesh
size of 12 cm (knot to knot). Seabream and turbot long-
lines are also commonly used in the shark fishery, but the
gear is made from stronger materials.
Spiny dogfish Squalus acanthias, thornback ray Raja
clavata and smooth-hounds spp. Mustelus are the
species targeted. The first two species are commonly
caught in the Black Sea. Spiny dogfish and thornback rays
are, according to Kutaygil and Bilecik (1976), very
Istanbul Harbour. Photo: Paul
important among the Black Sea's demersal fish fauna, and
Goriup. constituted 18.1% and 5.7%, respectively, of the total
demersal catch on the Turkish coasts of the Black Sea at this time.
Thornback rays are abundantly caught on the western Black Sea coasts of Turkey between 30 and 50 m
depth (Kutaygil and Bilecik 1979). The main fishing grounds of the large individuals (80-110 cm TL) of
spiny dogfish are the coasts of the central Black Sea (Kutaygil & Bilecik 1977). Fishing depths for the
spiny dogs ranged from 90 m to 110 m or a little deeper.
Annual spiny dogfish and thornback ray landings (tons) in Turkey, 1994.
Fishing area Spiny dogfish Thornback ra
Eastern part 463 341
Western part 1,969 346
Sea of Marmara 79 60
Aegean Sea 129 165
Mediterranean Sea 240 326
Total 2,880 1,238
(From 1994 Fishery Statistics, State Institute of Statistics, Prime Ministry of
Republic of Turkey.)
(From 1994 Fishery Statistics, State Institute of Statistics, Prime Ministry of Republic of Turkey.)
Unfortunately, we do not have detailed information on the present status of the stock structure and
population dynamics of these chondrichthyans in Turkish seas.
Many of the smooth-hounds landed in Turkey are taken by shark nets, particularly in the northern Aegean
Sea. The lesser spotted dogfish Scyliorhinus canicula is another shark caught in the Sea of Marmara and
the northern Aegean Sea. The length of this species rarely exceeds 50 cm and it is therefore usually
discarded by fishermen.
Large sharks are not subjected to a targeted commercial fishery in Turkey, but they are accidentally
caught during the fisheries for other commercially important species. The commercial swordfish long-line
fishery in the Gulf of Antalya (on the Mediterranean coasts of Turkey) takes thresher sharks Alopias
vulpinus incidentally. The bycatch of these vessels is mostly landed for export. Purse seine vessels only
rarely land bluntnose sixgill shark Hexanchus griseus bycatch in the Sea of Marmara.
Annual landings (mt) of sharks and rays in Turkey, 1989-1994.
( Mustelus spp.)
( Raja spp.)
(From: FAO yearbook, Fishery statistics (Catches and landings),
1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
5,140 1,715 2,292 2,404 1,436 2,880
25 34 17 13 13 15
2,028 1,056 1,209 1,557 1,557 1,238
The meat of the spiny dogfish and smooth-hounds is typically processed (smoked or salted) for export, or
marketed as fresh whole carcasses. Fins and oil-filled livers of sharks are processed and exported, but no
data are available on production quantities. Rays and skates are typically processed as wings, and
marketed frozen and without skin.
Our knowledge of the life history parameters (i.e. age and size at first maturity or breeding season) and
the population dynamics of sharks and rays in Turkish seas is very scarce. Furthermore, no management
measures have been implemented for sharks and other species of chondrichthyan fishes. These two
points are possibly the major factors hindering the development of a sustainable chondrichthyan fishery in
Exported chondrichthyan production of Turkey, 1
Shark fillets, smoked
Spiny dogfish, fresh/chilled
Lesser spotted dogfish,fresh/chilled
Spiny dogfish, frozen
Spiny dogfish and lesser spotted dogfish, frozen fillets
Shark fillets, frozen
Shark fillets, fresh/chilled
Shark fillets, smoked
Shark fillets, salted
Shark fillets, processing type unknown
SSG Fun ing
(From 1994 Fishery Statistics, State Institute of Statistics, Prime Ministry of
Republic of Turkey.)
Kutaygil, N., and Bilecik, N. 1976. Observations sur les principaux products demersaux qui sont pech6s su
les c6tes Turques de la mer Noire. Rapp. Comm. Ynt. Mer Medit., 23, 8:75-77.
Kutaygil, N., and Bilecik, N. 1977. Recherches sur le Squalus acanthias L. Du littoral anatolien de la mer
Noire. Rapp. Comm. Ynt. Mer Medit., 24, 5:81-83.
Kutaygil, N., and Bilecik, N. 1979. La distribution du Raja clavata L. sur le littoral anatolien de la mer Noire
Rapp. Comm. Ynt. Mer Medit., 25/26, 10:95-98.
Hakan Kabasakal, M.S.
University of Ystanbul, Fisheries Faculty,
Department of Marine Biology,
Ordu cad., No. 200, Laleli 34 470,
Fax: (90) 212 514 03 79
Basking shark protection extended again
The basking shark Cetorhinus maximus has been strictly protected for several years in a small area
around the Isle of Man, Irish Sea, UK. This extremely limited protection has (unsurprisingly for a migratory
species) not prevented a steady decline in recorded summer sightings around the island over the past
decade. However, the area of protection for the species has gradually been extended during the past
The first significant move was the addition in 1995 of Mediterranean basking sharks to Annex II:
Endangered or Threatened Species, of a Barcelona Convention Protocol, albeit meaningless until ratified
and implemented ( Shark News no.8, p.7). This was followed by the April 1997 listing of this species and
several others in a rule protecting them from directed fishing in US federal Atlantic waters ( Shark News
A few months later, in August 1997, the States of Guernsey (an independent group of islands in the *
English Channel) voted unanimously for a law sponsored by the Department of Fisheries giving total
protection to the species in their waters. The Department recognized that the protection provided would
not significantly reduce the species' vulnerability in European waters. This would require legislation from
coastal powers with greater sea areas under their jurisdiction.
A move in this direction took place in December 1997 when the listing of the Mediterranean basking shark
population on Appendix II (Strict Protection) of the Bern Convention on Conservation of European Wildlife
and Natural Habitats was agreed, albeit with a reservation from the European Union. Once this reservation
is lifted, the species will automatically also become listed on the European Habitats and Species Directive,
and Member States will be required to prohibit the killing, capturing and keeping of basking sharks from
the Mediterranean. Most recently, in April 1998, the UK government announced the full protection of the
basking shark in British waters (out to the 12 mile limit).
Further protection in Europe will require similar conservation legislation on the part of other range state
countries, or action on the part of the European Union as a whole. The latter might be achieved by lifting
the Bern Convention reservation and extending the listing, or by establishing a zero Total Allowable Catch
for basking sharks under the Common Fisheries Policy. New Zealand, for example, banned target fishing
for the species in 1991 (although bycatch may still be landed here).
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New publication: IUCN Guidelines for Re-introductions
These Guidelines were prepared by the Species Survival Commission/ IUCN Re-introduction Specialist
Group (RSG) and officially approved by the 41st Meeting of IUCN Council in May 1995.
The re-introduction guidelines are written to encompass the full range of plant and animal taxa, and are
therefore general. They will be regularly revised, and are also intended to act as a launching pad for the
development of taxa and species-specific guidelines, to be developed in handbook form in the future.
Meanwhile, IUCN would like to receive criticisms, both positive and negative, arising from the application
of these guidelines in designing and implementing re-introduction projects. These will enable future -
updates to be made and specific guidelines to be developed.
Copies of the booklets have been published in Arabic/English, Chinese/English, French/English, Russian/
English, Spanish/English and English only. They are available from the IUCN Publication Services Unit,
219c Huntingdon Road, Cambridge CB3 ODL, United Kingdom. Fax. +44 1223 277175. Prices are $7.50
or 5 for the bi-lingual versions and $6 or 4 for the English-only version. SSC and IUCN members are
entitled to a one-third discount.
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Chumming the Elphinstone wreck, Egypt
Christian Wagner, who took a diving holiday on a liveaboard in the Red Sea at the end of last year, wrote
to Sport Diver with news of a dive boat seen baiting a 4 m oceanic whitetip shark from its dive platform
in order to enable the shark's mouth to be photographed out of the water. This activity was underway while
Wagner was swimming back to his own dive boat some 25 m away. He reports he was "glad to cuddle the
dive boat's propellor" as the shark headed in his direction.
He concluded: "next time you dive the Elphinstone keep your eyes behind you, as there is an oceanic
whitetip that has been trained to bite meat that hangs from a dive platform." Egyptian authorities were
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