July 21, 2009
Fishpond USA, The HSUS, MSPCA Urge End to Monster Shark Tournament
As shark populations face serious threats from overfishing along the East Coast, The Humane Society of the United States and The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have been joined by Fishpond USA in urging an end to the Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament. The event is scheduled for July 23 to 25 in Martha's Vineyard, Mass.
"Shark tournaments are a disgrace to the environment and to the community. Oak Bluffs should stop playing host to this kind of brutality," said John Land Le Coq, co-founder of Fishpond USA. Fishpond USA is a major fishing equipment and outdoor manufacturing company.
"We commend Fishpond USA for recognizing the dire status of shark populations worldwide and putting its reputation and brand behind the campaign to end these tournaments," said John W. Grandy, Ph.D., The HSUS' senior vice president for wildlife and habitat protection. "These events glorify the suffering and death of ecologically important animals, and it's time to end the Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament for good."
Sharks caught by fishermen in tournaments suffer greatly. "Keeper" animals brought back to shore are hung and weighed, sometimes while still barely alive. The animals are then dismembered in front of crowds that frequently include children. Nothing could be less educational or more degrading to sharks and shark conservation than the cheers and jeers that greet the display and awarding of prize money for the biggest dead shark.
- The shark species caught in the Oak Bluffs tournament have ranges that extend along the East Coast into Canada, and as far away as Europe.
- According to a 2008 study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, thresher, mako and porbeagle sharks, which are frequent targets of tournaments, are threatened with worldwide extinction and blue sharks have lost up to 70 percent of their worldwide population.
- July 2008: Based on evidence uncovered by The HSUS' investigative team, the 22nd annual Oak Bluffs tournament involved widespread gambling activities, including more than $1 million in total bets and high-stakes wagers called "Calcuttas." A legal analysis by HSUS' outside counsel suggests that these gambling activities are crimes under Massachusetts law.
- May 2008: The Oak Bluffs Parks Commission denied a request to use town property for the Monster Shark Tournament, and the town selectmen denied a liquor license for the tournament.
- March 2008: Wendy Benchley, widow of Jaws author Peter Benchley, asked Oak Bluffs' selectmen to end the Monster Shark Tournament.
Follow The HSUS on Twitter.
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.