SCS is a small volunteer run Society which has achieved an enviable record of conservation and research wins. The world today is obsessed with everything needing to be safe. A small adventure group of shark enthusiasts (SCS) simply can't afford the legal, insurance and administrative back-up which would guard against any risks of SCS having to pay out in the event of a claim or a legal action. The cost of our expeditions would have to double or treble!
When I read last year that a BBC film crew had to do a 'risk assessment' before filming a group of Morris dancers it brought home to me just how pathetic the world has become, we all know how dangerous knotted hankies can be! Today's adventurer who wants to be safe must wrap him/her self in cotton wool, go to bed and watch TV.
The directors of the Society are currently studying this problem searching for a way for our expeditions to be able to continue. It is with great regret therefore we have to announce that until this process has been completed, and a way forward found, we will have to suspend expeditions.
To our loyal supporters and past volunteers the message is 'We are not going away, won't lie down, and will find a way at going on, even if it involves all volunteers having to buy shares in cotton wool and avoid Morris dancers'! More to follow.
Qatar, mid Arabian Gulf April 9 - 18 inc. (Report written by Richard Peirce)
Organisers - Shark Conservation Society.
Leader - Richard Peirce.
Scientific Advisor - Alec Moore (IUCN - SSG member, Gulf region).
Volunteers - Mark Boothman, Andy Sweeney, Gokhan Kuzu, John Vuuren.
Photography - Mark Boothman, Richard Peirce.
Videography - Richard Peirce.
The Society would like to thank
Following the unfortunate deferment of the planned SCS expedition to Abu Dhabi, it was decided to proceed with a limited market survey programme in Abu Dhabi carried out by Alec Moore and, at the same time, with a third expedition in Qatar.
Alec Moore's Abu Dhabi market survey is reported on separately (see 2010 Abu Dhabi Survey). In Qatar time was spent chumming in Khor al Udaid for Bull sharks, Sandbar sharks and Blacktips, the pupping area discovered in April 2009 was visited and re-investigated, visits were carried out to the Corniche and Doha fish markets, historical records of the Green Sawfish - GSF (Pristis zijsron) were followed up on, and a visit was made to Bahrain to suggest that the Bahrain government consider Green Sawfish (GSF) protective legislation, and to explore the possibilities of mounting an expedition there.
Film and photograph free swimming sharks in Qatari waters.
Follow up on several historic GSF records.
Re-visit and investigate the Milkshark/Whitecheek shark pupping ground discovered in April 2009.
Conduct limited market visits to add to data collected on the 2009 expedition.
Visit Bahrain to suggest Green Sawfish (GSF) legislation which would complement the new Qatari law.
Work with the Ministry of Environment (Fish Resources Dept.) towards putting legislation in place to close the pupping area to all fishing for three months annually, and to try to achieve a three month total ban on catching all elasmobranches.
Documentary filming. Achieve footage for eventual use in the documentary which will cover all SCS work in the Gulf.
Visits to the main Doha wholesale market and the Corniche market were made on April 14/19/20/21/22. Forty-seven (47) photographs were taken of sharks which have been added to the data set achieved in 2009.
If anyone wants these photos or the details of what specimens were recorded, please approach the Society as we will be happy to provide the information. On a general level the following sharks were observed on the following days:-
Milksharks, Spottails, Whitecheeks, Blacktips, Bullshark (Pigeye)
Blacktips, Milksharks, Whitecheeks
Spottails, Milksharks, Hooktooth shark, Blacktips, Whitecheeks, Bullshark (Pigeye)
Blacktips, Milksharks, Whitecheeks, *Possible Slender Weasel shark
Milksharks, Hooktooths, Blacktips, Whitecheek,
Grey sharpnose, Milksharks
Milksharks, Sliteye sharks, Grey sharpnose, Blacktip.
SCS member Gokhan Kuzu who is a keen diver and a Qatar resident, had in 2009, reported having seen Bullsharks, Blacktips and Sandbar sharks in Khor al Udaid, close to where the channel joins the open sea. This area was investigated by SCS in April 2009 and again in September 2009 and on both occasions sharks (probable Sandbars) were observed. Khor al Udaid is also the location of the most recent GSF sighting (John Selhorn November 2008), so from both shark and (hoped for) GSF perspectives this was an area we had to spend time working in.
On the 18th and 19th of April 2009 a total of 84 juvenile sharks (mostly Milksharks and a few Whitecheeks) were caught, recorded, and released. Many specimens still had umbilical scarring, and all were within a few weeks of having been born. The Society has suggested this area be closed to all fishing for the suspected pupping period mid February - mid May (three months).
On April 12/13 2010 Richard, Mark, Andy and Gokhan aboard a Qatar Coastguard vessel returned to the same area to duplicate the investigation of April 2009.
lat and long have been removed for security reasons
We arrived at 1615 and were chumming by 1630. We left the above location at 2330 and recorded 5 male Whitecheek pups, 2 female Whitecheek pups and a Milkshark pup. (Details can be provided if applied for).
lat and long have been removed for security reasons
Two hours were worked at the above location during which four female Milkshark pups, one female Whitecheek pup were recorded, and one large (unsexed) 0.8 metre Whitecheek was observed.
Due to logistical problems we were not able to carry out the same intensive fishing efforts that had been done in 2009. However with only limited effort fourteen pups in the same area as last year's pups is further confirmation that the area is a pupping ground
In the report of the April 2009 expedition there was a list of GSF evidence in Qatari and Bahraini waters. Further evidence was gathered on the 2010 expedition which enables the list to be updated. New cases are marked with an *
Discussions were held with the Fish Resources Department (Ministry of Environment) on the desirability of the three-month closure of the suspected pupping ground, and an annual three-month ban on all elasmobranch landings. The department is in broad agreement as to the need for these measures.
The visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain brought invitations to make proposals for GSF protection in Bahraini waters, and for an expedition in 2011.
Four days spent investigating Khor al Udaid produced no current evidence of sharks or GSF.
The market surveys supported the data gathered in 2009. As in 2009 large numbers of juvenile Milk sharks and Whitecheeks were present in the markets and this, plus the successful second visit to the pupping ground, provides further evidence to warrant the three-month closure to fishing of the area.
As long as the Society is gathering data, the expeditions serve conservation purposes, and Gulf governments support us, our work will continue. Thank you to the governments of Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain for your help and support.
Become a Registered Supporter of the Shark Conservation Society today, for only £20 per year and help to secure the conservation of sharks around the world.
Dateline 16th March 2015.
We would like to draw all members attention to a campaign to ban shark fins soup from all government related events in Singapore. The campaign is collecting pledges and you can go online at Campaign.com/FINishedwithFINs to sign up.