2020's wildlife wins and ocean achievements!
Updated: Dec 31, 2020
For many reasons this year has been a thunderstorm of bad news, but breaking through those dark clouds are rays of sunshine shining brightly. Here's a collection of those sun beams of ocean good news that have provided bursts of joy, hope and inspiration throughout the year.
One of the very first things scientists did back in January was create cyborg jellyfish... and if that doesn't set the tone for a crazy year we don't know what does. This project does actually have some useful applications. It is said that these jellyfish could potentially carry sensors into the ocean to gather data such as temperature, salinity and CO2 levels from otherwise inaccessible locations.
This IUCN reassessment report for 2020 was released in December. Of all species that were reassessed this year, 26 are in recovery and 3 of these are shark species! 128 shark species were reassessed in total (not incl. rays/skates). A whopping 96 species of shark have moved from DD into other categories. Of these previously DD species, 61 have moved into LC. What a relief! 3 have moved into NT, 16 moved to VU, 9 moved to EN and 7 moved to CR. For those species that have been categorised as NT+ legislative efforts to protect them can now be supported by science and are more likely to be enforced. We're moving forward in getting them the protection they deserve. The 3 sharks that have recovered are the Warren's Sixgill Sawshark, the Pyjama Shark and the Spotted Gully Shark, all moving from NT to LC. This, alongside the 23 other species in recovery, demonstrates the power of conservation.
[Data analysed by Shark Guardian]
In February, school sharks (aka tope), smooth hammerheads and oceanic whitetips were granted protection during their migration after being added to the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) appendices which prohibits catch of the species throughout their entire range. Additional plans were put in place to provide extra protection for two already listed species of sawfish as well as entire families of guitarfish, giant guitarfish, and wedgefish.
In March, thanks to the endless amounts of effort put in by Shark Allies, it is now illegal to import, trade or export fins in Florida. The US's biggest shark fin trading hub passed The Kristin Jacobs Ocean Conservation Act ending the trade of fins throughout the state and becomes the 14th US state to implement such a ban. It all started a decade ago when Shark Allies campaigned to ban the trade in Hawaii with a bill passed in 2010. This momentum shows no signs of stopping with similar campaigns including Stop Finning EU and the Finspire Change UK all aiming to end the trade of fins for good.
On that note! Our Finspire Change UK campaign gathered 115,380 signatures on a UK petition to ban the import of shark fins to the UK. Now that the UK has left the EU (regardless of how you feel about it), it gives us leverage to implement legislation allowing better protection our oceans marine life and beyond. Due to this petition and the work put in behind the scenes by several other organisations and individuals, the UK is now racing towards implementing legislation that protects sharks. The debate for the Finspire petition is specifically to