Organizer defends Jaws production as shark friendly

To the Editor:

Jawsfest: The Tribute has received numerous questions regarding our Summer for the Sharks conservation initiative, with people wondering if we are against the Boston Big Game Monster Shark Tournament that commences this week. The answer to this question is no; however, we would like to see that tournament convert to a catch-and-release event, as is happening with many such tournaments today. As a local business owner, who also runs TicketsMV.com, I fully appreciate the revenue derived by local businesses from events. I also appreciate that select shark populations have declined by a frightening 90 percent in the last 40 years.

As part of Jawsfest: The Tribute, we have a three-day shark conservation component entitled Sharks, Arts & Conservation, at 57 Circuit Avenue, Oak Bluffs, where we will bring together scientists, photographers, artists, and conservationists from around the world to help us understand and appreciate the importance of sharks to the health of our oceans. Working with Universal Studios, Wendy Benchley, Shark Savers, and Discovery Channel Shark Week, Jawsfest activities will stimulate business Island-wide.

We are pleased to see return of great white sharks in the waters around the Cape, as scientists estimate there may be as few as 3,500 remaining in our oceans. Our season-long Summer for the Sharks initiative includes donation shark receptacles created by local artist Paul McPhee; a text-to-donate campaign (text JAWS to 56512); and campaigns Eat the Locals, Shop & Save (the Sharks), and Sleep with for the Fishes where businesses are making donations in support of this important cause. Funds are being collected all season, held at Edgartown National Bank and distributed to chosen shark conservation organizations at a ceremony in September, with the primary recipient being Shark Savers.

I believe that high-publicity events are essential to our Island economy and that sharks are vital to our oceans. I am proud to bring these elements together at Jawsfest: The Tribute and our Summer for the Sharks fundraising effort. We are greatly appreciative to the many organizations and sponsors who have joined with us in these efforts.

I hope this letter helps to answer questionsthat may exist. We encourage participation.

Susan Sigel Goldsmith

Producer

Jawsfest: The Tribute

West Tisbury