November 25, 2020

Caybrew makes shark donation

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The Cayman Islands Brewery presented a $3,306 cheque to the Department of the Environment (DoE) on Wednesday night, supporting a three-year project to survey and manage Cayman’s shark and dolphin population.

The donation came as the fulfillment of the brewery’s pledge to donate 5¢ to the department’s preservation project from the sale of 66,123 cans of its new White Tip Lager, launched in July.

At a Marriott Beach Resort ceremony on Wednesday, Director of the Environment Gina Ebanks-Petrie unveiled preliminary results of the preservation project

“The department understands the great importance of sharks and dolphins to the environment and the diversity and abundance of all marine mammals,” she said, thanking sponsors Guy Harvey, Caybrew and the UK’s Overseas Territories Environment project.

Dr Mauvis Gore, one of three leaders of the survey and a prime researcher in at least four international marine-conservation projects, summarised some of the DoE findings.

“Most sharks stay well offshore and are found between Little Cayman and Cayman Brac,” she said, pointing at approximately 12 shark and four stingray species in the area, dominated by nurse and coral reef sharks, and a sprinkling of tigers, hammerheads and white tips.

Globally, she said, between 26 million and 73 million sharks were caught annually, most to supply the “huge Asian fin market”, then thrown back to drown. At least 26 species ware threatened with extinction in the next five years, she told the 50-member audience.

A second researcher, the University of Edinbugh’s Rupert Ormond pegged the annual economic value of the Cayman’s shark population between US$1.2 million and $1.75 million — and dolphins at $1.1 million — in watersports and tourism, figures likely to rise to at least US$16 million for both in future.

By contrast, the “consumptive value” of sharks, he said, was “well under “US$10,000 per year”.

Dr Ormond recommended five options to local government for preservation of sharks and dolphins, including full protection in all territorial waters, expansion of Cayman’s too-small marine parks, ”catch-and-release” laws for the fishing industry, a ban on “finning” and a regulatory code mandating sustainable tourism.

“Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and parts of the US have protected their shark species,” he said, while Florida recently moved to give “full protection” to tiger and hammerhead sharks.

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