Over seven thousand people have shown their support to the Save Our Shark campaign calling on Government to afford legal protection to basking sharks in Irish waters.
In May, Social Democrat TD and former marine biologist Jennifer Whitmore, proposed in the Dáil to amend the Wildlife Act (1976) to include the basking shark. This would provide legal protection to the shark in Irish territorial waters.
Today, members of the Irish Basking Shark Group and Save Our Shark campaign will journey by boat up the Liffey to personally deliver the seven thousand strong petition to Minster Malcolm Noonan showcasing the overwhelming public support for protecting these huge and magnificent animals.
Dr Simon Berrow, lecturer at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and founder Member of the Irish Basking Shark Group said that ‘The basking shark has a long historical association with coastal communities along the western seaboard of Ireland. Therefore, it isn’t surprising this campaign resonated with so many. Basking sharks are one of most iconic and mysterious marine species that visit Irish waters, growing up to 12 metres long, it is often seen ‘basking lazily’ on the surface of the sea during hot spring and summer days. The time is right to afford these magnificent animals legal protection in Irish waters’.
Last month an international consortium of leading scientists and conservation organisations called on the Irish Government to provide legal protection for the basking shark in Irish waters. In an open letter these scientists outlined why Ireland needs to legally protect this endangered shark.
Dr Donal Griffin, campaign coordinator with the Irish Basking Shark Group said “unfortunately basking sharks are classified as endangered in the Northeast Atlantic, and because Irish coastal waters are such a hotspot for these animals during the summer months, we have a responsibility to protect them while they are here. Last month the scientific community gave their full support to list the basking shark under Section 23 of the Wildlife Act, and our online petition shows the overwhelming support for the campaign also among the general public”.