The idea for the Shark Summit began during a rainy night in June 2014. We had just successfully convinced Philippine Airlines to stop shipping shark products, and we were wondering what else we could do to move shark conservation forward in the country. Over steaming ramen, we asked ourselves, “What if we could gather conservationists, government officials, and enforcers together to meet about sharks?”
The answer to this question turned into the (hastily but successfully organized) 1st Shark Summit in Cebu. In August 2014, there was a historical gathering of policymakers, government officials, conservationists, divers, scientists, advocates, and students to identify challenges and solutions in shark conservation. The two-day event sprung two years of shark campaigns and projects, a policy to protect all shark species in Cebu, and eventually, the 2nd Shark Summit in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental in November 2016. For our second try, we expanded the two-day Shark Summit into a week-long celebration of sharks and the oceans, dubbed as Shark Conservation Week.
The 2nd Shark Summit led to a nationwide campaign to list shark and ray species in Appendix II of CITES, the creation of the 2020 Shark and Ray Conservation Roadmap of the Philippines, stakeholder consultations which involved listening and dancing to “Baby Shark” on loop, and shark conservation bills in the Senate and House of Representatives.
It’s now one week away from the next Shark Conservation Week and the 3rd Shark Summit in Bohol. This is a feat considering the limited human and financial resources we are faced with every time we plan it. But thanks to the generosity and support of many partners, we will not only get to celebrate the accomplishments and milestones of the movement, but also remind ourselves of the work that still needs to be done to protect sharks and our seas.
While we’re looking forward to the outcomes of Shark Conservation Week, we share with you other reasons to get excited.
Here are 10 of them:
1. It will be in Bohol. Bohol is a Key Marine Biodiversity Area with numerous species of rays, sharks, marine turtles and marine mammals. It’s also fairly accessible to participants from different parts of the country via ferry and direct flights. Local governments, dive operators, schools, and resort owners have been enthusiastic is supporting Shark Conservation Week!
2. On Monday, November 12, we will attempt to break our current record of 300 participants dancing to “Baby Shark.” The “Baby Shark” Dance Challenge is happening in the PGC Complex at 4PM and is open to all!
3. Mural artist and eco-lifestyle advocate Anina Rubio with the Baji Arts Collective of Bohol will lead a community painting mural in Tagbilaran City. This activity will be open to the public from Tuesday-Thursday (November 13-15).
4. We’re launching the Shark Conservation Legislation Toolkit! The Legislation Toolkit was created as a response to local government units who have reached out to us asking for help in crafting a law for sharks. The Toolkit aims to help them pass the law most appropriate to their context.
5. The Large Marine Vertebrates (LaMaVe) Research Institute Philippines is hosting the Shark Science Session on November 14, 8:00AM-12:30PM in Holy Name University. Up to 30 students, government officials, and interested early career researchers, and shark enthusiasts are invited for lectures on sharks and rays ecology, biology, anatomy and field research, as well as a chance to practice hands-on on anatomy and necropsy techniques on real sharks. Only 10 slots are open to the public. Please register by email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, age, and occupation, with the subject SHARK SCIENCE. Deadline for registration is Monday, Nov. 12.
6. The 2nd Anak ng Pating: Youth Forum on Oceans and Sharks will bring together up to 30 students and members of youth organizations for an interactive learning experience at 1:00-5:30PM on November 14 at the University of Bohol. Save Philippine Seas will lead a multi-stakeholder meeting role-play of a Senate hearing on shark policies, and session on writing local and national legislators to support the shark bill. Email email@example.com your school, course, and age to confirm. Deadline for registration is Monday, Nov. 12.
7. It will be the first public screening of The Atom Araullo Specials: Shark Land, which originally aired on GMA7 in May 2018. In this film, award-winning documentarist Atom Araullo traveled to different parts of the country to take a close look at how the sharks industry has been shaping and thriving: Donsol, Oslob, Mercedes, and Daanbantayan.
8. The special edition Shark Summit t-shirt featuring the Sharkada, our well-loved characters. It’s available for purchase during the week.
9. It will be platform to prepare for the 18th Conference of Parties to the CITES in May 2019. During the CoP, countries that are signatories to CITES -- including the Philippines -- will gather in Colombo, Sri Lanka, to discuss trade of wildlife. In the agenda are international trade measures for giant guitarfish, white-spotted wedgefish, and shortfin mako.
10. It will be the biggest and most interdisciplinary gathering of people who are interested or have a stake in sharks and rays in the Philippines. It is expected to propel shark conservation and management for the years to come under the framework of the 2020 Roadmap.
The 2018 Shark Conservation Week is supported by Wildlife Conservation Society, Sierra Madre Divers, Shark Conservation Fund, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and Oceana. It is organized by Save Sharks Network Philippines.