About the Shark and Coral Conservation Trust (SCCT)
SHARK DEPLETION / CORAL REEF DETERIORATION CASCADE
In the light of some convincing scientific reports over the last three or four years we are increasingly persuaded that there is a direct linkage between the deterioration in the world's coral reef sytems and the depletion in the number of sharks. Not only is the shark the top predator within a coral reef system but he is also a prime scavenger - - - keeping the sea clear of rotting carcases. In the absence of the shark two main effects 'cascade' downwards:
a. Sub-species which are the normal prey for the shark multiply and are all-too-often sea-bed foragers. This has the effect of 'cleaning out' the sea-bed bio-diversity (oysters.clams and scallops). The 100-year old scallop industry of Nova Scotia has collapsed as a result of this 'cascade' effect. There is a similar coral reef deterioration in the Northern half of the Red Sea. The exponential explosion of the Humboldt squid in the Sea of Cortez is probably directly attributable to the depletion of the hammerhead shark in the area.
b. Oceanic pollution increases dramatically as a result of an increase in 'lingering' organic detritus remaining from 'unscavenged' naturally-occuring fish and mammal mortality. The overall effect is for the marine pollution levels to rise quite dramatically and is often accompanied by an increase in algae. The virtual collapse of the Caribbean reef system is almost certainly attributable to over fishing of the shark and other species with the resultant algal increase in these waters, effectively 'stifling' coral polyps reproduction..
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has prioritized research into coral health but has .so far, attributed the deterioration to climate change and sea warming. Whilst we agree that these are important long-term issues, our belief is that the major and most immediate cause of coral reef deterioration is the over-predation of the shark and ocean acidification. Significantly, there is no equivalent 'prioritized' UNEP programme for research into shark conservation and coral deterioration linkage and this is where our priority lies - - - apply as much world-wide pressure as possible for an equivalent UNEP 'prioritized' research programme into the cascade-linkage of shark predation with sub-species 'explosions' and the resultant coral deterioration. (Please refer to the 'Articles' menu item for the scientific input supporting our 'cascade' ideas).
The Shark and Coral Conservation Trust (SCCT) Aim
To promote for the benefit of the public the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment of sharks and coral reef eco-systems and marine biological diversity.The 'enabling objectives' of the SCCT
1. To attract sufficient funding, scientific and media support to facilitate a research and education programme which will serve to realign UNEP priorities towards top priority for ocean acidification, the calcification process and shark conservation.
2. To assist with the organisation, funding and constitution of media-supported research expeditions (1) to areas of the world most critically affected by the depletion/deterioration 'cascade' effect.
3. To maintain 'lobby pressure' on diplomatic and political authorities until the UNEP priorities are changed (to an upgrade of shark conservation).
4. To ensure that the rate of human predation of shark species never exceeds the capacity of that species to reproduce - - in other words to ensure shark sustainability (some local human predation may be necessary for reef-dependent community survival).
5. To encourage and support scientific research programmes which have the effect of proving the shark depletion 'cascade /coral reef calcification capillary and 'cascade' linkage.Notes:
(1) These expeditions would be mounted on a 'non-missionary' and two-way information exchange basis and would concentrate on scientifically-robust and objective reporting to the UNEP Commission on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Please visit the 'Latest News' section of the menu for details of expeditions currently planned.