By Claire Beyers of The Paddle Out for Sharks
It feels like every time we go onto any social media platform there is always some form of reminder that our oceans are warming up, being polluted with an array of horrific substances or that our marine life is dwindling.
It feels too easy to watch something then move onto the next post and before long it’s time to get back to our daily grind.
The Paddle Out For Sharks was started in 2012 to stop just that – the lack of action! Divers, anglers and surfers came together to raise awareness of the damage bather protection gill nets do to shark populations along the south African coast line, to engage with authorities around reducing the impact of these nets and to work with the local community in finding solutions to the use of gill nets locally. The first event focussed on tiger sharks and other marine life that had been caught in the bather protection gill nets at Scottburgh. The response was overwhelming; with footage featuring on the SABC news and local wildlife show 50/50.
In 2013, another Paddle Out for Sharks was held to protest damaging shark fishing practices being conducted at Protea Banks – a shark diving hotspot in South Africa.
The underlying philosophy of the Paddle Out for Sharks is that local communities should take responsibility for practices taking place at their back door, so to speak
Since 2012, The Paddle Out for Sharks has drawn much support in highlighting the plight of Sharks. This support comes from all over southern Africa and internationally too. Paddle Out events have been held in Australia, Mozambique, Germany, Reunion to name a few. .
The Paddle Out for Sharks has always had a grass-roots ethos. In keeping with this, the organisers of previous Paddle Out for Sharks events are calling on communities to organise their own Paddle Out for Sharks that is relevant and focussed on their community.
“It’s time to highlight the fact that the health and wellbeing of our oceans and sharks affects everyone – not just those who live at the ocean or those who fish, surf or dive. The challenge is that everyone do something that will highlight and improve the plight of our Oceans and Sharks, no matter how small the effort. No matter where you are based, it’s to take back control! Stop relying on proposed laws, hopes or empty promises that things are going to improve – it’s time to knuckle down and become an activist. Organise a local clean up, post something on social media, get your neighbours involved, your school, your church or your local community – do ANYTHING but do something!!!!”
Here’s the organisers’ challenge to you.
“Send us your pictures and your videos with the #takebackcontrol featured in them and let’s take a stand this 4th of June 2016! #takebackcontrol”
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