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LIVING SHARKS PROJECT

EDUCATION THROUGH CONSERVATION

Shark species all over the world are in dire need of support. Changing the public perception from mindless killing machines to necessary apex predators is a task that takes tremendous effort, groundbreaking science, and educational outreach. That's why Keith Cowley created the Living Sharks Project, to bring positive attention to threatened shark species through scientifically motivated creative marketing initiatives. Proceeds from these initiatives will directly support shark research.

Living Sharks Project aids the protection of shark species through the support of conservation organizations. Through various creative marketing and community action initiatives, Living Sharks aims to raise awareness through education. Our campaign is built to educate fishermen in the importance of ethical release and capture of shark species for consumption only. Tournament fishing ethics will be reinforced through advocacy for catch & release, and marinas will partner for "consumption only" shark landings under HMS/LPS Fishing Permit Regulations. We will work with data collection groups that report to NOAA to gauge our success rates.

Living Sharks Project and Museum have embraced the story of shark fisherman Frank Mundus, who after fifty years of overfishing was able to make the turn towards conservation with a significant impact on shark science.


Shark Tournament Monitoring

JULY 2019 - BLOCK ISLAND, RI: My sixth year monitoring New England shark fishing tournaments (yes they still happen) this year with my camera in hand. These most current photos are of Block Island Shark Tournament, one of many tournaments still in operation today. There are cheers, beers, and children begging for the fins being cut from the sharks hanging on the dock. Makos, threshers and blue sharks are acceptable species to be weighed in for big money prizes, sharks that contain heavy metals and even urinate through their skin. More importantly, their numbers are in severe decline. No official fisheries science is being conducted aside from a single contract surveyor that reports to NOAA and can’t even stay for the duration of the event. Shark fishing tournaments are antiquated and when without science exist only to fulfill egos, sensationalism, and wallets.

Take action in your communities, educate yourselves on the current regulations and organizations with facts and strong data. Help us change traditions with modern science. Our campaign is #notrophysharks Tag shark tournament photos with this hashtag and help us find a functional data-driven scientific solution to the issue.

Photos by Keith M. Cowley, Curator - Living Sharks Project & Museum - Use only with written permission.

JULY 2019 - FAIRHAVEN, MA: I was able to make it over into Massachusetts to monitor the North Atlantic Monster Shark Tournament at West Island Marina. After 6 years of monitoring these kinds of events, I was satisfied (a hard word to use in a shark tournament environment) to see a tremendous amount of science taking place. All three female (two mature, one immature) Porbeagle sharks brought in were dissected and examined in full view of the public (even if initially I was strong-armed from taking any photos). The tournament was well-managed and emceed with crowd-pleasing shark facts, corrected on occasion by the lead marine scientist onsite, and constant promotion for their tournament fishing sustainability practices, landing only consumable sharks of regulation size. Clearly they know that there are ethical issues coming to light in many other events of this kind, so they are stepping up their public appearance. They also give 100% of their profits to a non-profit every year. This year, Fishing Partnership Support Services. All sharks brought in were weighed, measured, assessed for health and reproductive criteria, stomach contents, parasites, toxicity, and vertebral aging studies. While I still feel shark tournaments should be a thing of the past, if every tournament could be staffed this way, we would have an even stronger case to protect shark species with real data.

Take action in your communities, educate yourselves on the current regulations and organizations with facts and strong data. Help us change traditions with modern science. Our campaign is #notrophysharks Tag shark tournament photos with this hashtag and help us find a functional data-driven scientific solution to the issue.

Photos by Keith M. Cowley, Curator - Living Sharks Project & Museum - Use only with written permission.


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Photo by c 2018 - Michael Lorello, off Misquamicut Rhode Island

Photo by c 2018 - Michael Lorello, off Misquamicut Rhode Island

BYCATCH MONITORING RESEARCH

BYCATCH. “This was the same sad experience I had when I was working on a commercial fishing vessel. The first pull of our net was full to the brim with Dogfish. I’ll never forget seeing all those sharks mangled by the nets with their heads and bodies smashed out of the bag by the pressure of thousands of pounds. Bycatch refers to any species caught that were not the fishing vessel’s target fish, and this happens far more often than the public realizes. Even when all the bycatch is released as fast as possible, there’s still no guarantee of survival. The stress of the nets, the duration of time in the bag and on deck, (because of their denticles they stick to each other and all the other fish) and often being thrown without tremendous care back to the sea... While I’ve personally experienced surprisingly strong ethics and uncanny accuracy of catches on these kinds of boats, (most fishermen have not experienced this) it’s still time to change how we fish.” - Keith Cowley, Living Sharks Project

We are examining NOAA Fisheries most recent studies on bycatch and its effects on populations, and how to improve bycatch monitoring. Many fishermen tell us as fisheries surveyors, observers and monitors that there are plenty of fish, plenty of sharks. We want the data to match the claims so fishing regulations are fair for everyone.

Our campaign is #reportmorecatchmore Tag bycatch photos with this hashtag and help us find a functional data-driven scientific solution to the issue.