The Micronesia Shark Campaign originated in Pohnpei State, Federated State of Micronesia, as a collaboration between the Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT) and the Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP). In 2011, leaders (Presidents, Governors and Law Makers) at the Micronesia Chief Executive Summit and the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures Meeting passed resolutions to officially begin the process of creating a regional sanctuary where shark fishing would be prohibited. The Micronesia Shark Campaign aims to advance policy efforts for shark conservation and management in the Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the US Territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands specific to establishing shark protection laws at the state and national levels and achieving a Micronesia Shark Sanctuary by the end of 2012.
With the assistance of the former Executive Director of CSP, Mr. Patterson K. Shed, and the current director,
Mr. Eugene Joseph, we were able to arrange a few meetings with the main government leaders who would assist us in championing the shark project and at the same time assist us in rallying support from representatives in the government arena. With the help of shark specialist Dr. Rachel Graham and Dr. Kevin Rhodes a presentation that consists of information regarding sharks in general, what is happening to our sharks, what has been done to preserve our sharks and measures that are necessary to ensure protection, was delivered to representatives from Pohnpei State Government, Kolonia Town Government, Kitti Municipal Government, Pohnpei State AG’s Office, DLNR MCT, FSM R&D, DFW, EPA and OFA. The three public high schools on the island gave CSP three hours to convey the shark presentation that was created using information passed on from Dr. Rachel Graham Dr. Kevin Rhodes.Conservation Society of Pohnpei and its partnering agencies who are trying to push to have a shark sanctuary established and shark protection laws to be created in Pohnpei, was fortunate to have a film crew send from PEW, who helped produced a shark film called Sanctuary. The film showing was very successful as people from all different ages showed up to watch the film. The film was shown for three days and we had a good number
of people who came out and showed their support for the film and the shark campaign. From the shark film a song was also produced to entertain the guests and now the song is playing island wide. The song is basically about the importance of sharks in the ocean and while it is entertaining the lyrics are also educational.Our friends from the Micronesia Shark Foundation, Tova Burnovski and her crew from fish and fin was also in Pohnpei to assist with the school visits for the shark campaign. We were very fortunate to have them with us as they provided books and presentation for the elementary students. They had only two days with us so we could only visit twelve of the Elementary Schools in Pohnpei. The rest of the elementary schools will be visited by CSP staff and the rest of the books will be distributed to the remaining schools.
A Declaration was also created for the Traditional Council of Chiefs to evaluate and endorse to show their support for all conservation policies introduced to the island of Pohnpei. In the Declaration the preservation of sharks was included which led to a conversation of the importance of sharks and the reasons behind creating a Micronesian Shark Sanctuary and creating policies to protect sharks. The traditional leaders agree to support any policies protecting resources in the marine ecosystem. The declaration was signed and is now waiting to be announced to the general public.