This weekend you have the opportunity to play your part in helping Sharks while visiting your favourite fashion outlets in Malta.
How you may ask?
The answer is simple, by taking a trip to The Point shopping centre, Tigne’ Point, Sliema on Saturday 21 October and visiting level -2 and level -3 where you will find Sharklab-Malta and fellow Shark Alliance members Greenhouse and Nature Trust holding a full day shark awareness activity.
Sharks are facing massive problems globally and especially in the Mediterranean from the problems of overfishing and the huge demand for fins to feed the Asian demand for “sharkfin soup”. The barbaric act of finning (the removal of the sharks fins while the shark is still alive and then thrown back to the water to drown) does not occur in Maltese waters but is a common practise throughout many European fleets and is having a catastrophic effect on populations of many species. This year as part of European Shark Week you can add your name to the petition to make your voice heard that it is time for change.
Your voice can make a difference to the survival of many species of Sharks, some of which used to call the waters around Malta home and are now facing crisis point within the Mediterranean.
By visiting the event this Saturday you be able to not only sign the petition (also online here), but also have the opportunity to learn the real facts about sharks. Contrary to popular belief the probability of encountering a shark around the Maltese Islands is almost zero, although we know and have evidence that 36 different species have inhabited or travelled through our waters, most of these have not been sighted for many years. The majority of species which still inhabit our waters are less than a metre in length and live at depths greater than 50 metres. Larger species are a rarity and although occasional sightings are reported they are often difficult to verify.
Sharks are an essential component to the balance of the marine ecosystem and by removing them at the rate we are is only going to have major negative effects. Control of the marine ecosystem is a role they have been playing out for the last 460 million years, yet in the last 30 years there numbers have spiralled down. Blue Sharks were once a common sight all over the Mediterranean, including around Malta and their numbers in the last 10 years have dropped 90%. If we do not step up and begin to be responsible for the oceans and seas, then the situation is only going to get worse. We need sharks to maintain balance.
Sharks on our menus in Malta
When it comes to eating sharks, many people in Malta include shark within their normal diet. Shark can regularly be purchased from the high-street fish van or the local supermarket. “Mazzola” is commonly sold and the name is generically used to describe 7 different species of sharks. Unfortunately, some of these species are endangered and face the real possibility of not being there much longer in our waters, but as they are simply sold as “Mazzola” how can you tell which is endangered and which is not? And did you know that “Mazzola” is shark anyway?
So when it comes to awareness and making a difference here in Malta. We have to start with ourselves, we need to understand the importance of sharks and the roles they play in keeping the marine eco-systems balanced. If we do not care for our waters, by promoting better management and enforcing protection where needed, then we will see many species simply disappear.
We cannot let that happen, human beings caused this situation but we can turn it around, through education and action we can all play our part in not only the survival of sharks, but in making the balance within the seas as it should be.
So, play your part, make your voice heard and come see us at The Point’, sign your name and learn a little about what is under the surface of our magnificent waters.
About the Author
Greg Nowell is Founder of Sharklab-Malta, a registered NGO in Malta and non-profit voluntary organisation dedicated to research, education and raising greater awareness about all Elasmobranch (Sharks, Rays, Skates and Chimaeras) around Malta and within the Mediterranean.