The Save Our Sharks project
Save Our Sharks is aimed at the protection of sharks in the entire Dutch Kingdom. The campaign focuses on finding fitting solutions to protect declining shark populations by performing scientific research, communicating with politicians and fishermen, and educating the public, both on the Dutch Caribbean islands and in the Netherlands. Save Our Sharks was originally a project headed by the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance and financed by the Dutch Postcode Lottery.
The Dutch Caribbean waters of Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire, Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Maarten are home to an array of large shark species including tiger sharks, hammerheads, and whale sharks. All available evidence points to a strong local decline in shark numbers, mirroring the dramatic decline of sharks globally. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently estimates that one-quarter of all shark and ray species are threatened with extinction.
Our oceans cover over 70% of the earth’s surface and contain 80% of life on earth. Therefore, maintaining this ecosystem is crucial to our existence. As large predators, sharks keep our largest and most important ecosystem healthy. They are a critical component in an ecosystem that provides a third of our world with food, produces more oxygen than all the rainforests combined, removes half of the atmosphere’s man-made greenhouse gasses, and controls our planet’s temperature and weather. And sharks are not only important on a worldwide scale. They are important to the Dutch Caribbean in safeguarding the health of our reefs, and are key contributors to maintaining the natural balance of the reefs, adding to their biodiversity and durable function. Moreover, sharks are of key importance to an economy so heavily reliant on tourism. Divers are willing to spend more, and travel further, if they are likely to see sharks on their dives.