Shark Savers Congratulates The Northern Mariana Islands For Shark Fin Law

Confiscated Shark Fin
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NEW YORK, NY, January 25, 2011, --/WORLD-WIRE/-- Shark Savers
), an international shark conservation organization, is pleased to
congratulate the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)
for protecting dwindling shark populations by banning the shark fin
Governor Benigno R. Fitial signed the historic law today,
recognizing that “sharks are one of the top predators in the marine
food chain and play an important role in our ocean’s ecosystem.
Sharks have characteristics that make them more vulnerable to
overfishing than most fish.”

The law, House Bill No. 17-94, HD1, SD1, makes it “unlawful for
any person to possess, sell, offer for sale, trade, or distribute
shark fins in the CNMI”. The bill is similar to the landmark
legislation recently passed in the State of Hawaii. The CNMI joins
island nations and regions in taking strong actions to protect
sharks, including Palau, the Maldives, and Raja Ampat, Indonesia.

Witnessing the Governor’s signing of the bill today is the
Director of the award-winning filmSharkwater, Rob Stewart, who is an
Advisor to Shark Savers. Mr. Stewart said, “Protecting sharks with
this law is important to the CNMI, a Pacific Territory that is
dependent on the oceans. It was truly inspiring to see Governor
Fitial and the CNMI legislature taking this bold stand to see that
its sharks are not destroyed for the shark fin trade.”

Shark populations worldwide have plummeted in recent decades to
support demand for shark fin soup in Asia. Up to 73 million sharks
are killed annually for their fins, with some shark populations
declining by as much as 90%. Stopping the shark fin trade is a
critical means to stop the depletion of shark populations, as it
removes the incentive to land sharks for their fins and greatly
simplifies enforcement.

“One by one, Pacific Island communities like the CNMI are taking
steps to protect valuable shark species to ensure the health of their
precious marine environments”, said Michael Skoletsky, Executive
Director of Shark Savers. “Research suggests that preserving sharks
within an ocean ecosystem helps to maintain life and species balance
throughout the food chain.

The bill takes effect immediately, exempting subsistence fishing
with no trade and providing a 90-day grace period for restaurants.
Violation of the law results in fines between $5,000 and $30,000
and/or imprisonment for up to six (6) months on the first violation.


AgriKidsNZ kicks off for 2011

This Thursday Rolleston will be teeming with activity as ninety-nine children take part in AgriKidsNZ, which is part of the New Zealand Young Farmers family, at the Rolleston Community Centre from 1pm.

AgriKidsNZ is a skills-based competition, aimed at primary school aged children, and is run alongside The National Bank Young Farmer Contest at seven Regional Finals around the country from late February until Easter.

Thursday’s event will be attended by 99 children from Sport and Recreation Canterbury (SPARC), Pioneer, Rolleston and College of Education holiday programmes and is a chance for AgriKidsNZ staff to run through a revamped programme for 2011 before the first Regional Final in Helensville on February 26th.

The AgriKidsNZ competition involves teams of four competing in two sections; the first being The Preliminaries which are made up of eight modules that will include general knowledge, animal identification, fencing, first aid and more.

The top seven teams will then proceed through to the exciting, fast paced Race Off where they will have to do everything from milking a model cow to building a farm gate and even filling water balloons with a drenching gun; all while racing against each other in the hope of being the AgriKidsNZ champion team on the day.

Educational Pathways Manager Emma Aker believes the Rolleston day will be a great chance for a group of mostly urban children to learn something new about agriculture.

“While this is predominantly an agricultural competition, filled with events that are made up of common farming practices and knowledge, competitors aren’t required to be from a rural background.”

“The activities require the children to use problem-solving and teamwork skills while challenging and educating them, not just about agriculture and safety issues but also on the importance of healthy competition.”

Emma hopes that plenty of members of the public will come along to support the kids and bring some more atmosphere to the event too.

“It’s a great chance for the local community to come along, see something a little different, support the AgriKids and maybe even learn something new about agriculture too.”