It was just a couple of years ago that the Shark-Free Marina Initiative (SFMI) was launched as a way to contribute to shark conservation by getting marinas to prohibit the landing of sharks. A shark-free marina would not allow sport fishermen to bring in caught sharks for landing, weighing, trophy picture-taking - you name it; no sharks allowed. In addition, marinas were encouraged to promote catch-and-release techniques involving the use of specialized fishing tackle that was less injurious to the sharks.
While in its infancy, I was pleased and honored to produce their first promotional video featuring SFMI director Luke Tipple. SFMI has continue to grow, adding participating shark-free marinas from Florida to California, from the Caribbean to the South Pacific. For 2011, Florida - one of the biggest sportfishing capitols in the world - is the focus of a concerted campaign to register marinas as shark-free.
The Shark-Free Marina Initiative is now supported by both The Humane Society of the United States and The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and is backed up by an impressive list of shark researchers and conservation advocates. Currently, there are two designations to which a marina may subscribe: a Shark-Free Marina - which abides by a strict, no-take policy, and a Shark-Friendly Marina or Business - which discourages the intentional killing of sharks and promotes protection and conservation. The second designation was in response to marinas and businesses who wished to participate but were restricted, by either corporate policy or state law, from denying fishermen the right to bring in a shark that was legally caught. (So, let's get to work on those laws!)
The Shark-Free Marina Initiative also has the support of celebrities, as can be seen in this new PSA.
Check out the Shark-Free Marina Initiative's website and if you have a local marina that you think should get involved, talk to the marina's management or contact SFMI directly and they will approach the marina with an opportunity to preserve an important ocean species without impinging on the sportfisherman's past time.