Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) today announced his partnership with the Discovery Channel to help end the illegal practice of shark finning and promote shark protection.
Throughout "Shark Week," the channel's week-long programming dedicated to these creatures, Discovery will run public service announcements to promote shark education and awareness, while creating a conservancy guide and online petition at Discovery.com to encourage grassroots support for Kerry's Shark Conservation Act.
"Shark finning has fueled massive population declines and irreversible disruption of our oceans," said Sen. Kerry. "We need much stronger solutions to finally end this illicit trade. We can do more, and I'm thrilled to see Discovery Channel's willingness to roll up its sleeves and help us get the job done."
This is Senator Kerry's second year sponsoring "Shark Week." Earlier today, Discovery President and General Manager Clark Bunting wrote Kerry to again endorse the Senator's legislation.
The full text of the Discovery Channel's letter to Sen. Kerry is below:
July 7, 2010
Senator John Kerry
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Kerry:
Each year, more than 100 million sharks around the world are killed due to commercial fishing -- including tens of millions just for their fins. The demand for shark fins, meat, liver oil and other products is driving numerous shark populations to the brink of extinction.
Populations of several shark species found in U.S. waters have declined by more than 97% in recent decades. Now, to make matters worse, the oil spilling into the northern Gulf of Mexico is threatening an important habitat area for several shark species, including whale, thresher, hammerhead and tiger sharks.
Sharks play a vital role in ecosystems, maintaining the balance of life in the ocean. Scientists warn that removing sharks will cause irreversible damage to our oceans and the species that inhabit them.
For this reason, Discovery Channel is once again supporting The Shark Conservation Act of 2009 (S. 850). We applaud you for introducing this critical legislation to help strengthen the U.S. ban on shark finning, improve shark fisheries data and encourage international shark conservation. We also applaud the House of Representatives for passing this legislation by voice vote in March 2009.
As the #1 non-fiction media company in the world, Discovery Communications strives to educate and inform viewers about our planet and Discovery's SHARK WEEK, now in its 23rd year, has become a perennial favorite among viewers who want to learn more about this powerful and often misunderstood creature. SHARK WEEK, which premieres this year on August 1, highlights historical shark events, scientific findings and little known behavior with compelling footage and storytelling.
We also want to share with you Discovery's partnership with Oceana, Ocean Conservancy and The Pew Charitable Trusts, which includes a public service announcement campaign. These PSAs, to air throughout SHARK WEEK, will educate viewers about the plight of sharks and encourage grassroots action via our online resource center. This site, discovery.com/savethesharks, will include information about the important work our nonprofit partners are doing as well as ways people can help ensure the U.S. is on the forefront of shark conservation.
Again, thank you for your leadership on this critical issue. We look forward to working with you to strengthen domestic shark protections and promote shark conservation around the globe.
President & General Manager, Discovery Channel and President, Science Channel