Cebu City, Philippines, 10 August 2014— Hunted accidentally or with impunity, sharks species are now facing extinction, causing worldwide concern over the sustainability of their species. Greenpeace today marked the beginning of Shark Week with the launch of a photo exhibit entitled, SOS: Spotlight on Sharks, to highlight the beauty, diversity and vulnerability of these incredibly majestic and often misunderstood creatures of the deep.
“Sharks represent the current problem that global oceans are facing, with ecosystems in decline due to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,” said Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines. “The problem of killing and harvesting sharks is rampantly happening on our shores, mostly because of the lack of awareness among fishermen, and also because of poor regulations on poaching and the illegal trading of sharks.”
Sharks are collectively known as cartilaginous fishes because their skeletons are made of cartilage, rather than bone. There are currently more than 300 shark species in the world. The Philippines is known to have around 160 species of cartilaginous fishes , the most common of which is the Rhincodon typus, or the whale shark (locally known as butandings).
Though often portrayed as vicious man-eating carnivores, statistics show that the odds of being hit by a coconut is ten time greater than being bitten by a shark .
As apex predators, sharks maintain the balance of marine ecosystem by preying on the sick and the weak members of their prey populations, thereby preventing the spread of diseases; an outbreak could be devastating.
Tens of millions of sharks worldwide are killed every year. Many, if not most, are caught accidentally in fishing gears, while others are killed directly for their fins, meat or oil. Shark habitats are also being destroyed by both man-made and natural causes and as a result, some species of sharks have plummeted in numbers, or in some cases, have become locally extinct.
Greenpeace hopes that the SOS: Spotlight on Sharks photo exhibit will break the stereotypes surrounding sharks. Composed of 12 moving images from world-renowned and award-winning photographers commissioned by Greenpeace, the exhibit hopes to encourage public and national support for the protection and conservation of sharks.
“Thankfully, Cebu has banned the catching of sharks. The local government is not only leading conservation efforts, they are prepared to draft stronger regulation measures that will encompass fishery trade and tourism,” said Cinches. “It’s about time for Filipinos to give sharks their due respect and appreciation and protect them from further extinction. After all, we owe them our very own survival.”
The Greenpeace SOS: Spotlight on Sharks photo exhibit will run from August 10 to 15 at the Ayala Center Cebu (Level 1 Expansion).
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