Philippine dragon boat paddles at Manila bay to open the shark conservation week 2023.

A fluvial parade opened the 4th Shark Conservation Week celebration, which will be held from February 27-March 4, 2023, to highlight the calls for clear government policies for shark conservation in the Philippines.

The fluvial parade was organized by Save Sharks Network Philippines (SSNP) and the Philippine Dragon Boat Team to raise awareness of the plight of shark and ray species in the Philippines. The week-long celebration aims to strengthen the conservation of sharks by advocating for the passing of a national legal framework, paving the way to healthier marine ecosystems and encouraging economic stability and sustainable livelihoods.

“As tourism and other economic activities go back to pre-pandemic levels, our oceans and the species that call it home continue to face many threats,” said Anna Oposa, Executive Director and Chief Mermaid, Save Philippine Seas. “We need national legislation that lays out how we can best protect and sustainably manage threats to our sharks and rays.”

The network is calling for the passage of a legal framework that is science-based, enforceable, and socially just, taking into consideration the state of the marine environment and the communities that depend on these ecosystems.

From left to right, Ms. Anna Oposa, Executive Director and Chief Mermaid, Save Philippine Seas, Mr. Nazario C. Briguera, Chief Information Officer, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and Ms. Mayette Rodriguez, Executive Director NGOs for Fisheries Reform at the Shark Conservation Week 2023 Press Conference.

“The Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources supports all initiatives that aim to conserve our sharks and highlight its importance in the conservation of marine biodiversity and sustainable use of these resources for succeeding generations,” said Atty. Demosthenes R. Escoto, DA-BFAR National Director.

Previous Shark Conservation Weeks were held in Cebu City, Cebu in 2014; Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental in 2016; and Panglao and Tagbilaran City, Bohol in 2018. One of the objectives of Shark Conservation Week is to build a constituency among various stakeholders, including line government agencies, legislators, the private sector, youth and academic institutions, fishers, traders, and other sectors such as tourism. 

A Shark Summit will be held on March 2 and 3, 2023 to document the progress of shark conservation in the Philippines and identify relevant issues that need to be addressed. The Summit will aim to create a Shark Conservation and Fisheries Management Framework which will be the basis of any policy needs and conservation actions identified.

The following are the activities for Shark Conservation Week:

The Shark Conservation Week is organized by SSNP through Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines, a conservation organization that aims to develop a better appreciation of the marine environment and its ecological processes.