Is “Be kind to sharks” catching on?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1997:

Grant Lightfoot of
Invercargill, New Zealand,
apparently fancied himself a
macho hero on January 29 when
he leaped off a boat carrying
scuba divers in Milford Sound
and stabbed to death a harmless
thresher shark.
“You could liken it to
jumping over the fence and cutting
the throat of a bobby calf,”

said Southland Skin Divers captain
Brian Dean. Amid international
public outrage, unprecedented
on behalf of a shark, disgusted
staff at the New Zealand
Department of Conservation
pledged to throw the book at
Lightfoot if he did the deed in
the half of Milford Sound
classed as a marine reserve––but
he got off when investigation
proved he was outside the
reserve boundary.
Scary shark incidents
came February 1 near Kaenae,
Hawaii, where Bhupenda
Bhakta and Meghal Shah of
Georgia were presumed eaten
by sharks, possibly after drowning,
and the next day in Sydney,
Australia, where a shark
knocked oarswoman Andree
Mocsari, 49, out of her racing
scull and, ignoring her,
attacked the boat, but momentum
seems nonetheless to be
building toward helping sharks.
Survivors for 350 million years,
sharks as an order have been in
rapid decline since trophy hunting
competition and an Asian
taste for fins sparked an ongoing
shark-hunting boom circa 1970.
On December 20, the
National Marine Fisheries
Service proposed regulations to
bar the keeping of basking, bigeye,
sand tiger, white, and
whale sharks, five of the largest
species, although recreational
hook-and-release fishing for
white sharks will still be permitted;
cut the commercial quota
for big sharks from 2,570 metric
tons to 1,285, with a bag limit
of two sharks per boat per trip;
cut the number of commercial
shark permits from 2,700 to
about 400; and put a quota for
the first time on small sharks,
initially set at 1,760 metric tons.
NMFS also banned
shark-baiting along the 360-mile
central California coast, effective
January 21, halting the
growth of a shark-watching
business developed by Jon
Cappella, of Aptos, California,
who has alarmed the Santa
Cruz-based Surfers Environmental
Alliance since 1994 by
charging scuba divers $680
apiece to spend time in an
underwater cage while he
dumps slaughterhouse offal into
the sea to bring sharks into the
vicinity. Cappella began the
practice about three years after
great white sharks attacked two
surfers five miles south of the
renowned Ano Nuevo elephant
seal breeding haulout, which is
in the same vicinity. While
Cappella claims to have been
promoting shark conservation,
opponents charged that another
shark attack could provoke––
like those attacks––a burst of
shark-killing. The immediate
area lies within the Monterey
Bay National Marine Sanctuary,
but sharks might have been vulnerable
to the north, south, and
farther out to sea.
A parallel battle is underway
at Mossel Bay, South
Africa, where one Roy Portway
operates a shark-viewing business,
over the opposition of the
town council. Although the last
fatal shark attack near the community
beach was in 1927, a
woman diver was killed and a
surfer injured in a pair of 1992
attacks by great white sharks
farther out into the bay. Public
concern about sharks in the bay
has historically inspired several
massacres, Portway acknowledged
in a recent interview with
The Cape Times, of Capetown.
The state of New
South Wales, Australia, having
already protected the grey nurse
shark and Herbst’s nurse shark,
meanwhile introduced a fine of
$16,000 and/or six months in
jail for anyone caught killing or
possessing either a great white
shark or white pointer shark.
Queensland introduced similar
legislation on January 31, while
South Australia and Tasmania
already had shark protection
laws in effect.
Slow to mature and
reproduce, some Atlantic shark
populations are down by as
much as 80%, says the Ocean
Wildlife Campaign, a coalition
of six conservation groups.
Besides the five species gaining
specific protections, hammerhead,
sandbar, bull, dusky,
lemon, and nurse sharks are
also down, National Coalition
for Marine Conservation head
Ken Hinman recently told Pat
Leisner of Associated Press

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