Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nominate Kathy Pagapular Ruszala's Sixth Grade Class for a Peter Benchly Ocean Award

Here it goes, I'm asking for your help yet one more time. Will you nominate Kathy Pagapular's San Vicente Elementary School Sixth Grade Class for a Peter Benchley Ocean Award in Youth Activism? Kathy's class supported shark protections in the Northern Marianas this year and jumpstarted momentum for a year of shark conservation. They deserve recognition.

Click here to learn how to nominate San Vicente Elementary School for a Peter Benchley Ocean Award in Youth Activism.

The deadline for nominations is December 31, 2011. Nominations should include 2- 6 paragraphs on the nominee and why the nominator finds them deserving in their category. Feel free to include supporting materials and/or links. Please include the nominees contact information and your contact information.

Submit to benchleys@bluefront.org. Mark subject line - Benchley Nomination - Youth Activism. Nominators names will be held in confidence.

2011 was a watershed year in shark conservation. And where did it all start? Saipan. On January 27, Governor Ben Fitial signed a law criminalizing the sale, trade, and possession of shark fin. This act kicked off 12 months of improved protections for sharks, including shark sanctuaries in The Bahamas, Honduras, the Marshalls, and Tokelau, shark fin bans in Guam, California, Washington, Oregon, and half a dozen Canadian cities, protections for oceanic whitetips, hammerheads, and silky sharks on the high seas, and agreements by international and regional bodies to implement more protections in 2012.

The law in the Northern Marianas was supported by many in the community, including fishermen, divers, and the conservation-minded, but a sixth grade class at San Vicente Elementary School may have done more than anyone else to make sure sharks received protections.

I could tell their story, but filmmaker Rob Stewart does it much better with his short film Sharkwater Saipan. This short film is just a preview of Rob's second feature film Revolution, due out in theaters next year.


Watch Sharkwater Saipan on Youtube.

I am asking you to write your own nominations (but I am available to help or edit). Two paragraphs should not be that difficult. Think of this award as something that will come home to the Marianas, not just San Vicente Elementary.

I make this request as the Saipan Blogger and the Godfather of the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument, not as someone who works for an organization that shall go unnamed. I have had the honor of meeting many shark champions around the world this year including Tony DeBrum from the Marshall Islands, Ev Quiel and Melanie Blas on Guam, Manoa Rasagitale in Fiji, Rob Stewart in Canada, and many others, but my home and my heart lies with Saipan. So let's bring that award home!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Shark Hope



You will find a familiar Friends of the Monument face in this documentary about shark conservation in Fiji.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Please Sign White House Petition to Protect Sharks

Earlier this year the Northern Mariana Islands kicked off a global rush of shark conservation by banning the sale, trade, and possession of shark fin. Since the day Governor Fitial signed Public Law 17-27 into law, leaders in Guam, Honduras, The Bahamas, Chile, Tokelau, and the Marshall Islands have passed shark conservation measures. Additionally, Governor Fitial championed the declaration of the Micronesia Regional Shark Sanctuary, the first multi-jurisdictional shark sanctuary in the world.

I started a petition on the White House’s We The People website asking the Obama Administration to “ban the sale, trade, and possession of shark and shark products, including shark fin.” The petition needs about 1600 more signatures for the Administration to issue an official response. Please take a few moments to sign.

The petition can be found online at: www.wh.gov/gWs

The Northern Marianas is a global leader in marine and shark conservation. Like the students from San Vicente elementary who helped support the passage of our shark protections, these protections should spread from island to island, from country to country. The United States should be the next country to protect sharks.

Angelo Villagomez
Washington, DC

Monday, October 3, 2011

Marshall Islands National Shark Sanctuary

The Marshall Islands declared the world's largest shark sanctuary.

Congratulations and thank you to the people and government of the Marshall Islands.

And do you want to know what they are protecting? Here is a video from the Marshall Islands Conservation Society and HD Under H2O:



Again, congrats, Marshall Islands!!!

And it is time for the United States to do something similar. Shark Defenders started a petition on the Obama White House website that calls for a "ban the sale, trade, and possession of shark and shark products, including shark fin." As of this writing it needs 1,800 more signatures to reach the level that will guarantee a response from the president.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION

Friday, September 23, 2011

ACTION ALERT: Ban the sale, trade, and possession of shark in the United States

Shark Defenders created a new petition on We the People, a new feature on WhiteHouse.gov, and they are asking for your support. Will you add your name? If this petition gets 5,000 signatures by October 22, 2011, the White House will review it and respond!

Also, will you repost the petition to Facebook and Twitter?

We the People allows anyone to create and sign petitions asking the Obama Administration to take action on a range of issues. If a petition gets enough support, the Obama Administration will issue an official response.

You can view and sign the petition here:

http://wh.gov/gWs

Here's some more information about this petition:

The Obama Administration should ban the sale, trade, and possession of shark and shark products, including shark fin.
One third of all shark species are threatened or near threatened with extinction.To reverse this trend, the USA must be a leader in protecting these important predators.The Administration has championed international agreements and signed the Shark Conservation Act, but this only mandates how a shark is killed, not how many. On average, the USA lands 30,000 tons of shark per year. Palau, Maldives, Honduras, Bahamas, and Tokelau have declared national shark sanctuaries, banning the commercial fishing of sharks in their waters and ending the shark trade. Domestically, laws have been passed banning the sale, trade, and possession of shark in Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, and the territories of Guam and Northern Marianas. The USA should implement a national shark and shark fin ban.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

UNEP/GRID-Arendal’s Blue Carbon Photography Contest

Grassroots organizations involved in coastal and marine conservation are invited to participate in UNEP/GRID-Arendal’s Blue Carbon Photography Contest. Selected photographs are intended for use in a special publication for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa (COP17), and for an online image resource - the Blue Carbon Photography Library.


The theme of the contest “Life on the coasts - Blue Carbon” focuses on the importance of a healthy marine environment in coastal livelihoods.

We are looking for iconic images in two categories – People & the Environment, and Coastal & Marine Ecosystems. Examples include coastal and underwater scenes, community based restoration and conservation projects, our connection to healthy coastal ecosystems (e.g. fisheries, tourism), and how a changing ocean and climate impact the daily life of people and communities living along the coast.

As long as there is a clear affiliation with a grassroots organization, all professional and non-professional photographers worldwide are welcome to submit. Organization logos will also be highlighted in the special publication. Blue Climate Solutions has offered a digital underwater camera as a prize for the best image. Additional sponsors are welcome.

**To SUBMIT your images, please see the Competition Rules and send all submissions to: photocontest@grida.no

**The DEADLINE for submitting pictures to UNEP/GRID-Arendal is SEPTEMBER 30, 2011. Finalists will be announced in October 2011.

Personal Release forms are required for all images that include recognizable subjects and children (see Competition Rules).

After reviewing the following Competition Rules, you will be fully prepared to enter the contest.

Contest information and rules can be found at: http://www.grida.no/marine/activities/blue-carbon-photo-contest.aspx?id=4808

Best of luck to all!
Steven Lutz
UNEP/GRID-Arendal
Arendal, Norway
Email: photocontest@grida.no

UNEP/GRID-Arendal is a non-profit, administratively independent institution and an official collaborating centre of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It was established in 1989 by the Norwegian Ministry of Environment to support UN’s Environment Programme and other UN agencies. Its mission is to communicate environmental information to policy-makers and facilitate environmental decision-making for change.



Suzanne Garrett
DCMC Coordinator
IUCN
1630 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20009
202.518.2072

Friday, July 8, 2011

Refuge System Sets Goals for Next Decade

Friends of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument
to Join 1,200 at One of Nation’s
Largest Gatherings of Conservationists


Representing Friends of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument (FOMTM) Ignacio V. “Ike” Cabrera, Chairman and Laurie Peterka, Secretary, will be among 1,200 professionals and citizen conservationists who will hear from Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, retired U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who headed the federal response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and historian/author Douglas Brinkley at the National Wildlife Refuge System Conserving the Future conference in Madison, WI. The conference will be held July 11-14, when a new vision will be ratified to guide the Refuge System for the next decade.

The conference – one of the nation’s largest gatherings of conservationists — is the culmination of a months-long, highly transparent process to create a reinvigorated vision for the Refuge System. Over the past six months, Americans submitted more than 10,000 comments to the draft vision, posted online at http://americaswildlife.org, where more information about the vision and the conference is available.

Speakers will also include noted oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle; award-winning nature photographer Dewitt Jones who traveled the globe for National Geographic; MacArthur-winning environmental activist Majora Carter of the Bronx, New York; and Juan Martinez of Los Angeles, with the nonprofit Children & Nature Network and named by National Geographic as one of its Emerging Explorers.

FOMTM was among more than 100 nonprofit Refuge System Friends organizations at the conference. FOMTM formed in the Spring of 2008 to express the voice of the local community and consists of a cross-section of indigenous and resident people of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands who are dedicated to the conservation, preservation and protection of flora, fauna and geological features of the oceans; and the proper management of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. The organization was a recipient of a 2009 EPA Environmental Award for their community outreach work supporting marine protected areas. Currently, FOMTM follows and reports on progress of the steps outlined in the 2008 declaration.

The Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the nation’s largest network of federal lands and waters dedicated to the protection of wildlife and the habitat on which it depends. The Refuge System is composed of 553 national wildlife refuges spanning about 150 million acres. More than 44 million people visit wildlife refuges each year.

The new vision will help the Refuge System implement the best wildlife conservation practices guided by the latest science. The Refuge System’s new vision recognizes the rapid social and environmental changes that have taken place over the last decade or so.

One idea slated for discussion: to establish an interagency team to improve habitat conservation and the conservation literacy of America, especially among the young.

FOMTM is attending the NWR conference to network with like-minded professionals and volunteers in order to bring whatever resources it can back to the local community. Any particular programs that may be launched as a consequence of participation will be announced at http://marianamonument.blogspot.com/, where you can also follow all other activities that FOMTM is involved on behalf of the community.

The Conserving the Future conference will also showcase a modern face of the federal government: Many conference proceedings will be live-streamed. Texting, mobile communications and social networking will all play essential communications roles.

The Refuge System will offset carbon emissions tied to conference travel with contributions to The Conservation Fund’s Go Zero program.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sharkwater Saipan


Check out what Kathy Pagapular's 6th grade class at San Vicente Elementary School were able to accomplish with the help of Sharkwater's Rob Stewart and some other very dedicated adults. I hope this inspiring video goes viral, and I'd appreciate anything you can do to put it in the blogosphere, Twittersphere, or Facebooksphere.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

World Oceans Day - How will you celebrate?

How about becoming an Ocean Hero?

Be an Ocean Hero This Summer!

World Oceans Day, June 8, is a day for celebrating the oceans' beauty and bounty. This summer, do more than just celebrate. Be an ocean hero.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Protect the Oceanic Whitetip Shark on World Ocean's Day

oceanic whitetip shark
The IUCN Red List Threatened Species assesses the Oceanic Whitetip Shark as Critically Endangered in the Western and Central Atlantic. Globally they are assessed as Vulnerable and are threatened with extinction if strong measures are not put into place to protect their remaining populations.

To raise awareness of the plight of this charismatic species, please change your Facebook profile picture to the attached graphic until World Ocean's Day on June 8, 2011.  A high resolution of the photo can also be found on Flickr.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Saipan: Opportunit​y to Visit NOAA Research Ship

An opportunity has arisen to visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) research ship (the Hi'ialakai) on Thursday of this week (the 28th).

The Hawaii based vessel has been conducting research around the Marianas (including the northern islands) over the last month with both off-island and local scientists. The ship will be returning to Saipan this Wednesday and is offering students and the general public an opportunity to tour the ship and talk with the scientists conducting the research.

If you are interested in coming out please either email Aric Bickel or Ranger Nancy Kelchner at American Memorial Park to reserve your spot, as there are only so many people the boat can handle. Visitation hours on Thursday for students are between 12 and 2:00pm and between 3 and 4:00pm for the general public. Those coming out (and others interested) are asked to visit the vessels website http://noaacred.blogspot.com/  to familiarize themselves with the work being done and get an idea of which scientists they would like the speak with/what questions they would like to ask.

This is a great opportunity to get a first hand look at some of the research that is being done at the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. Feel free to contact Aric with your questions!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Planning Begins for Management of the Marianas Trench and Pacific Remote Islands

Federal officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the NOAA Fisheries Service are soliciting information, ideas, suggestions and concerns related to the development of management plans for the Marianas Trench and Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monuments. These management plans will guide management of these two unique marine national monuments for the next 15 years.

 
The Marianas Trench Marine National Monument in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the Pacific Remote Islands National Monument were created in January 2009 by President George W. Bush under the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906. Together, the two monuments include more than 182,000 square miles of ocean, coral reefs, submerged lands, islands and atolls and represent some of the most remote and pristine marine areas on Earth.

 
The Marianas Trench Marine National Monument consists of 95,216 square miles within three units: the Marianas Trench Unit, which is 1,100 miles long, 44 miles wide and includes only the submerged lands; the Volcanic Unit, which consists of circles (1 nautical mile radius) around 21 undersea mud volcanoes and thermal vents along the Mariana Arc and again, includes only the submerged lands; and the Islands Unit, which includes only the waters and submerged lands of the three northernmost Mariana Islands: Farallon de Pajaros or Uracas, Maug, and Asuncion. The Marianas Trench Unit and the Volcanic Unit are also managed as units of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

 
The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument spans 86,888 square miles and also incorporates seven national wildlife refuges: Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Palmyra Atoll and Wake Atoll.

 
Public comments will be accepted until July 31, 2011. [Emphasis Added] Opportunities for additional public input will be announced throughout the planning process and public meetings may be scheduled [Emphasis Added] to help share information and obtain comments. Once draft plans are completed they will be released for additional public review and comment before being finalized. The plans will be revised every 15 years and will be reviewed annually.

 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration are cooperating in the development of the plans and will carry out their designated management roles under their respective authorities.

 
While other topics will likely be identified during public scoping, the following are among the preliminary issues that may be addressed during the development of draft management plans:
  • Climate change impacts and adaptation
  • Marine debris impacts and removal
  • Invasive species prevention and control
  • Other potential threats to the ecosystem (e.g. trespass; illegal fishing and shipwrecks, groundings and spills)
  • Emergency response to natural and manmade disasters and natural resources damage assessments
  • Habitat conservation and restoration
  • Historic and cultural resources
  • Public education and outreach
  • Scientific exploration and research opportunities
  • Developing an appropriate permitting program for activities within the monuments.

More information is included in two Notices of Intent to develop management plans published in the Federal Register on April 5, 2011.

 
For the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, please send written comments or requests for more information by any of the following methods:
  • Email: MTMNM@noaa.gov
  • Fax: 808-973-2941
  • Mail: Heidi Hirsh, NOAA Fisheries Service, 1601 Kapiolani Blvd., #1110, Honolulu, HI 96814

 
Additional information about the Monument and its two refuges is available at http://www.fws.gov/marianastrenchmarinemonument and http://www.fpir.noaa.gov/MNM/mnm_index.html

 
For the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, please send your written comments or requests for more information by any of the following methods:
  • Email: Pacific_Reefs@fws.gov
  • Fax: 808-792-9586
  • Mail: Susan White, Project Leader, Pacific Reefs National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 300 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 5-231, Honolulu, HI 96850
 Additional information about the Monument and its seven refuge units is available at http://www.fws.gov/pacificremoteislandsmarinemonument and http://www.fpir.noaa.gov/MNM/mnm_index.html  
 
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov

 
NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at http://www.noaa.gov or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/usnoaagov.

(PR - April 6, 2011: NMFS, NOAA, DOI, FWS)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

There is bipartisan support for a Monument visitor center in the NMI

Reprinted from Congressman Kilili's e-Newsletter, Friday, March 17, 2011:


There is bipartisan support for a Monument visitor center in the NMI — I want to thank the sixteen Members of Congress — from both sides of the aisle — who signed on to be original co-sponsors of H.R. 1207, authorizing construction of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument visitor center in the Northern Marianas. My bill envisions a multi-purpose facility for the interpretation, public education and enjoyment of the marine environment within the Monument and fulfills the promise of President Bush’s Executive Order creating this vast protected area. Don Young (R-AK) and Dale Kildee (D-MI), both second in seniority in their respective parties on the Natural Resources Committee, agreed to be co-sponsors again. H.R. 1207 is a revision of a bill I introduced in the last Congress that responds to heightened concerns about federal spending. I believe we can decrease costs without comprising the design and functionality of the facility. Either federally-managed or donated land in the Northern Marianas will be used. The Secretary of Interior will decide on the appropriate location for the facility.

How much fish can be sustainably caught in the Marianas?

Reprinted from Congressman Kilili's e-Newsletter, Friday, March 17, 2011:

How much fish can be sustainably caught in the Marianas? WESPAC will set limits - The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council is preparing to amend its fisher ecosystem plans for the Mariana Archipelago. The plans establish a method for specifying annual catch limits with the goal of preventing overfishing. In the same way that irresponsible government spending saddles our children and grandchildren with debt, fishing beyond sustainable levels steals from future generations. The area WESPAC manages includes all waters and associated near shore marine resources within the exclusive economic zone surrounding the Mariana Islands. The management plan contains conservation and management measures for harvesting bottomfish and seamount groundfish; snapper, atulai and other coral reef ecosystem species; crustaceans such as lobsters; and precious corals. Public comments are due by May 16, 2011. For more information see http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2011/pdf/2011-6151.pdf.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Diego calls on fellow lawmakers not to lift the ban on net fishing

By Haidee V. Eugenio, Reporter. Reprinted here from the Saipan Tribune, March 15, 2011.

House minority leader Diego T. Benavente (R-Saipan) is asking his fellow lawmakers to consider not supporting the lifting of a net fishing ban on Saipan as proposed by House Bill 17-136, citing its negative impacts on the CNMI people, the economy, and sustainability of the islands' natural resources.

“Contrary to HB 17-136's intentions for providing assistance in an economically stressed time, passage of this bill would only hurt our economic conditions even further,” Benavente said in his three-page “dear colleague letter.”

He asked his colleagues to return HB 17-136 to the Natural Resources Committee for further investigation, allow for proper public comment and presentation of scientific input before allowing the bill to be placed on the agenda for vote.

Benavente, a fisherman for over 20 years, said that lifting the net fishing ban is a step backward for the CNMI's efforts to increase its fish stock since banning net fishing more than 10 years ago.

“Adding any increased fishing pressure now will only send us backwards, further reducing the stocks and resulting in fewer fish very fast. Until scientific data shows us that we are clear from the dangerous impact of surround net or any type of net fishing, we cannot in good conscience allow this to resume,” Benavente said, citing a January 2011 report on the Marianas Archipelago Fishery Ecosystem Plan.

Benavente is also the author of the law that bans shark finning in the CNMI, earning the Commonwealth international accolades for its shark conservation efforts.

HB 17-136, introduced by Rep. Sylvester Iguel (Cov-Saipan), said that, although the net fishing ban was created for conservation purposes, it is necessary to take into consideration the economic crisis that people now face.

His proposal is to lift the net fishing ban on Saipan for only five years, and only for subsistence purposes and not for commercial fishing.

“Any sales or distribution beyond one's immediate family shall be a violation of this law,” said Iguel.

Iguel said many government employees are now subjected to unpaid holidays and 16-hour cut per payroll, while private sector employees are also faced with similar work hour cuts and even furloughs. He also cited the increasing utility costs and fuel prices.

But Benavente said surround net and other net fishing are, by design, a way to catch large volumes of fish.

“It is an insult to the intelligence of our people to suggest that these volumes would not be sold commercially and only be allowed for non-commercial, subsistence purposes. In fact, allowing the passage of 17-136 will only benefit a handful of people and potentially open our resources to further exploitation by outside sources, even if unintentionally,” he said.

Benavente said being a fisherman since his younger years, he can personally attest to the decline in the fish population. He said when he was a boy, there was an abundance of fish and all forms of fishing were permitted.

His father was the first to introduce the Okinawan style of gill net fishing and to bring Okinawan fishermen to Saipan to work for him.

“Using the Okinawan fishermen and hiring local fishermen, he was able to run his market successfully seven days a week. In fact, I followed in his steps buying boats, running a market’ and selling our daily catch for more than 20 years. Today, our fish stocks are depleted, my boat is sold and my fish market is closed,” he said.

Over 10 years ago, Benavente supported the passage of the original Fair Fishing Act, which banned net fishing and Scuba spear fishing “because we could plainly see the obvious decline in our fish populations” and the damage in coral reefs and the lagoon.

The CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife conducted a study in 2004 to 2007 with data results showing that the number of fish is increasing and their sizes are bigger compared with data from the time before the Fair Fishing Act was implemented.

Benavente said he would also counter any reports or suggestions by the Western Regional Fisheries Management Council that the CNMI's fishing resources are underutilized.

He said WRFMC's model or their use of mathematics is based on total resources from Rota all the way to Uracas, which cannot provide accurate information by which to gauge the individual islands' resources.

“Perhaps some of our neighboring islands can withstand additional fishing pressure, but the scientific evidence is clear for Saipan and that we cannot afford to allow a return to any type of net fishing practices at this time,” he added.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pacific Fisherman Lawmaker: World Needs Moratorium on Shark Fins

Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands – Before he was the Speaker of the House and Lietenant Governor, Diego T. Benavente was a fisherman.  Today Benavente is the minority leader in the Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives, and is making a name for himself for his conservation efforts.

“Twenty years ago I could go out in my boat and catch enough fish to stock my market,” explains Benavente.  “I can’t do that anymore.  My market is closed and I’ve sold my boats.”

Benavente believes the disappearance of fish is partly due to a severe decline in global shark populations.  The issue was first brought to his attention by a fellow fisherman and confirmed by State Senator Clayton Hee of Hawaii as well as global shark conservation groups such as WildAid and Shark Savers.

Benavente is now championing shark conservation efforts in the Northern Mariana Islands and introduced the Shark Fin Prohibition Act last year, which prohibits the sale, possession, and distribution of shark fins.  Governor Benigno R. Fitial signed the bill into law on January 27, 2011.  The shark fin ban is only the second of its kind and is modeled after a similar shark ban implemented in Hawaii in 2010.

Rob Stewart, producer and director of Sharkwater, was on Saipan to film the signing of the legislation as part of an upcoming documentary. According to Stewart, sharks are targeted globally for their fins, which are used as an ingredient in shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy. 

He says that 73 million sharks per year are killed to supply the global shark fin trade.Stewart says, “Sharks have been on earth for over 400 million years and have survived five major extinctions. As the apex predator, they ensure the health of the ocean ecosystems, keeping fish stocks healthy, maintaining balance on coral reefs, and ultimately safeguarding the future of the oceans upon which we depend.”

“The world’s oceans are in trouble,” says Benavente.  “All nations, small and large, have a definite role to play in our oceans recovery.”

Benavente would like to see more governments, from national legislatures to local municipal councils, tackle the issue of shark finning and has made a challenge to governments across the world.

“A global moratorium on the sale of shark fins is a good place for all of us to start,” he says.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Rob Stewart Cleans Up Saipan

Photo: Aya Matsumoto
'Sharkwater' director, volunteers conduct Sunday beach cleanup
Saipan Tribune

Rob Stewart, the acclaimed director of the documentary Sharkwater, joined some 30 volunteers during the beach cleanup behind Aquarius Beach Towers in Chalan Kanoa yesterday morning.

The volunteers collected a truckload or about 120 lbs of trash from the beach down by the Sugar Dock and all the way to the Aquarius beach.

Beautify CNMI!: Cinta Kaipat, Rob Stewart, Shawn Heinrichs, and Aya Matsumoto
Having participated in a recent beach cleanup in Hong Kong, Stewart noted the importance of doing beach cleanups regularly.

“It shows a great sense of care and investment in your land,” Stewart told Saipan Tribune.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rob Stewart of Sharkwater to speak at AMP on Monday!

Rob Stewart (the director of "Sharkwater", will be visiting the CNMI this upcoming week and will speak at American Memorial Park at 6:30pm this Monday (Jan 24th).
Rob will be showing some of the footage he has accumulated on sharks on his world-wide travels filming them, as well as discussing shark conservation efforts, how the CNMI community can get more involved, and the work on his upcoming film (part of which he is filming here in the CNMI!)

Please join us for this exciting and rare event at AMP this Monday, and please help us spread the word to others that may be interested.

The event is free and open to the public; seating is limited, so come early to ensure admittance. For planning purposes, the event is expected to last between 60 and 90 minutes.