10. October 2019 Christine Gstöttner

Sharkproject expands and plans to opens up

The development from an association of experts to a powerful, internationally active member organisation is progressing well.

The marine and species conservation organization SHARKPROJECT has been committed to the marine ecosystem for nearly two decades and is one of the most active organizations worldwide for shark protection. Lectures, trade fairs, expert contacts, research projects, free education and school programs as well as cooperation with universities, diving organizations and tour operators in the field of research and education and training characterize SHARKPROJECT’s extensive range of products and services. Since 2018, Alex Smolinsky leads the organization as President of SHARKPROJECT International. Together with the country organizations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and with SHARKPROJECT partners and ambassadors in other countries, the activities have recently been massively expanded. Now a modernization and opening of the internal structures are planned, which will allow all active shark protectors to participate and co-design the entire organization. At the same time, SHARKPROJECT is supporting the introduction of an official European Citizens’ Initiative to achieve a Europe-wide trade ban on shark fins.

Sustainable projects successfully implemented

SHARKPROJECT cooperates intensively with universities and scientists worldwide, supports research projects and thus develops scientifically founded figures, data and facts about sharks. Based on these facts, governments and international institutions are requested to anchor shark protection in their laws and regulations. For example, white sharks, like many other shark species, are threatened with extinction worldwide and are on the Red List of endangered species. They can only be rescued by the rapid establishment of large-scale fisheries prohibition zones.

SHARKPROJECT also provides ongoing information about the distorted media image of the shark as a “killer” or “monster” and is available to educational institutions and the media as a point of contact and with experts. Documentaries and TV-Shows supported by SHARKPROJECT have reached hundreds of thousands of people about the need for shark protection.

SHARKPROJECT President Alex Smolinsky reports: “Over the past year and a half, we have implemented several new projects and campaigns worldwide, working with internationally renowned scientists, diving experts and the media. New findings from the research projects we support will make it possible to establish effective shark sanctuaries in Mexico, for example.” In the meantime, more and more committed individuals, project groups, communities, regions, governmental and non-governmental organizations from all over the world are approaching SHARKPROJECT with cooperation and project proposals. For international campaigns, SHARKPROJECT cooperates with renowned organizations such as Greenpeace, WWF, Fins Attached, the German Marine Foundation, Wildtrust and many more.

Smolinsky: “We support local projects and receive support and encouragement from an enormous number of people with very different backgrounds – from all over Europe and almost all parts of the world. We are currently developing SHARKPROJECT from an originally relatively small group of experts towards a broad, international citizen movement for the protection of sharks and oceans”.

SHARKPROJECT 2020: New statutes, more members and supporters, more co-determination.

In the future, SHARKPROJECT wants to inspire even more people and motivate them to become personally involved in marine and shark conservation. “The many young people who are becoming increasingly involved in animal and environmental protection do not only want to collect donations and work on information booths, even if this is of great importance for the projects. They want to be actively involved in the planning and implementation of projects, take on responsibility in the organization, have a say and help shape it. This is what we at SHARKPROJECT want and will make possible,” says Smolinsky.

All people who are actively involved in shark protection should have full membership and thus direct co-determination and functions at all levels. In the future, SHARKPROJECT will also differ significantly from many other environmental protection organizations in which simple members and supporters are often excluded from relevant decision-making processes.

The new and more modern statutes are to be adopted internationally before the end of this year. In the future, the headquarters of the umbrella organization “SHARKPROJECT International” will be in neutral Switzerland, as is customary with most internationally active NGOs. In addition to Germany, Austria and Switzerland, SHARKPROJECT will established in several new country organizations in the coming years, among them Croatia, Liechtenstein, France and the Netherlands.

Gerhard Wegner, founder and committed supporter of SHARKPROJECT to this day, is also pleased with the positive development of the organization he founded: “The scope of SHARKPROJECT was massively expanded by my successors in the last two years. Today, SHARKPROJECT is active in shark protection and research on several continents and now receives requests for members and cooperation from all over the world. That makes me proud and I am pleased that organizational measures are being implemented that will enable further growth and direct co-determination for all committed shark protectors.”

Latest news: European citizens’ initiative initiated by SHARKPROJECT in preparation

SHARKPROJECT is currently presenting its preparatory work for the launch of a European Citizens’ Initiative with the aim of achieving a ban on the trade in shark fins in the entire EU together with partner organizations. At www.stop-finning.eu you may find all the information you need to sign this initiative and help it to be formally implemented throughout the EU.

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