As you can see from the letter below - a lot of people came together for a common purpose, a common goal...and while as individuals we whisper, as a group we are heard. This is a great accomplishment - a big thank you to all those involved!
From Gary and Brenda Adkison:
It was just announced a few moments ago that the Ft. Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce and its City Commissioners all voted unanimously to immediately change the upcoming "Are You Man Enough Shark Challenge" to a total Catch and Release tournament with chase boats and live streaming video beamed back to television monitors at the tournament headquarters!
There will be no "shark kill" tournament!
This came just days before a large organized shark conservation and education protest was scheduled this weekend in front of the tournament headquarters. It has been confirmed that the sponsoring business owners were virtually unanimous in their support as well and actually had decided to make the tournament "catch and release" just hours prior to the commission vote.
Margret Meade once said, "Never doubt that a group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world.......indeed it is the only thing that ever has!"
There are many heroes in this effort and hundreds of individuals behind the scenes who helped make this environmental victory possible. Those hundreds of you who took the time to write an e mail and voice your concern to the tournament organizers fueled the fire!
Penny Miller who networked and boldly wrote Governor Crist's office and the Ft Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce in Florida strongly voicing her anger at this throwback to an African Big Game Hunting mentality!
Mary O'Malley and Lupo who were relentless in their pursuit of information on the "toxic" shark meat that was ostensibly being given to the homeless in an effort to "spin" killing sharks into a "positive justification" by the tournament organizers. They uncovered the falsehood that the Salvation Army had not even been contacted at all this year by the tournament organizers as advertised on their web page and they did not even want the meat in the first place....toxic or not!
Lawrence Groth who is a tenacious truth seeker that never gave up and pursued sponsors, tournament organizers, wrote blogs and even went "undercover" to film the "secret" shark kill tournament in Sarasota last week and planned the protest event on the Ft Myers side.
Neil Hammerschlag whose academic candor roused the environmental spirit of young supporters and helped turn the Commissioners around and to ultimately get the vote in favor of the sharks passed in commission chambers!
The scientific intervention by Dr. Sonny Gruber of the Bimini Field Station/University of Miami fame and Dr. Bob Heuter, Director of Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota lent credibility and sound insight to this project's goal and gave the tournament organizers a viable alternative to still making a success of a Catch and Release tournament.
And of course....to all the bloggers around the world, Mike Neumann, Patric Douglas, Wolfgang Leander, Heidi Coluzzi and dozens of others on all continents, who raised their voices in protest and demanded environmental reason to prevail.....
Thank you one and all! The sharks won this one today....thanks to a unified effort by everyone. Now with this momentum let us not allow it to fade. Let us all continue to pick the battles and take every opportunity to make a difference for the shark globally. Our children are counting on it....and our planet can not survive without our collective conscience.
The former president of the Nature Conservancy, John Sawhill once said..."in the end, our society will be defined....not only for what we created....but for what we refused to destroy....!
Gary and Brenda Adkison
Directors Shark Foundation,
USA 954 554 8918"