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Shark lovers, listen up! Mexico has made a big move in the world of shark Conservation by putting an end to shark-related tourism activities at Isla Guadalupe, a remote volcanic island located about 160 miles off the coast of Baja, California. In 2005, the Mexican government declared the area a Biosphere Reserve, and last month, the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas announced the permanent suspension of shark-watching activities, sport fishing, and the use of non-scientific drones. The ban went into effect on Jan 10, 2023.
Source: FOX 5 San Diego/Youtube
Isla Guadalupe, known for its clear warm waters and thriving marine life, including seals, bluefin tuna, and great white sharks, was a top destination for shark cage diving. In 2019, around 2,800 visitors participated in some form of shark cage tourism, and the number of shark cage diving vessel operators increased from six to ten between 2014 and 2019.
The government temporarily suspended sport fishing and shark-watching from May 2022 to the end of the year to gather information on “best sustainability practices.” But now, due to the indefinite ban, tour companies have been forced to shut down operations. San Diego-based MV Horizon Charters announced on Facebook that they are financially tapped out and will be refunding deposits to customers, while shark tour company, Be A Shark, is fighting back against the ban and will be negotiating with authorities to implement policies that ensure continued monitoring of white sharks.
While shark-related activities like cage diving have helped break the stigma surrounding great white sharks, there are still concerns about the impact on the species. Some say the bait used to lure sharks has changed their behaviors, making it dangerous for both the sharks and people. In 2018, New Zealand banned shark cage-diving activities.
Great white sharks are considered vulnerable but not endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, largely due to their low reproductive potential and slow growth rate. Humans have also negatively impacted the shark population, with Climate change and disruptions to their habitats being the main causes of concern. The greatest threat to great whites, however, is entanglement in fishing nets as bycatch and intentional catch as trophies.
A recent study by scientists at Florida International University even dives into the fascinating discovery of great white sharks making friends and hunting together. So, while the end of shark cage diving at Isla Guadalupe may be a bummer for thrill-seekers, it’s a crucial step towards preserving these magnificent creatures for future generations to enjoy.
It’s up to all of us to do our part in protecting our planet’s wildlife. Make a conscious effort to reduce your carbon footprint, choose sustainable tourism options, and Support Conservation efforts. Let’s ensure a bright future for the great white sharks and all of the other incredible creatures that call our oceans home.
Sign this petition to tell all CITES participating countries to prepare to enforce new protections and shark fishing bans!
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