Today has the potential to be the most successful day yet in the short history of Spinning to End Finning. But first, a short synopsis of our last two days…
On Sunday morning, our friends and hosts, Stephanie and Chris Johnson gave us a lift in the car to the beginning of a 20 mile bike path linking the town of Oakton to downtown DC. We yelled thanks and waved goodbye, and began the very last cycling leg of the trip. It was a smooth, mostly downhill glide into DC, shared with lots of other cyclists, joggers and moms pushing strollers. It was a beautiful, green run, and was really the perfect way to end the journey.
Devon’s cousin John lives and works right in the central hub of DC, and we met up with him right away. We dropped our bags at his place, and then pedaled with empty trailers to Capital Hill Bike Shop, where we said a tearful goodbye to our trusty steeds (Capital Hill is boxing and shipping our bikes and trailers home for us..THANKS CAPITAL HILL!).
We spent a great afternoon visiting as many Smithsonian museums as possible, and then joined John for dinner and an evening stroll through town. John is an endless source of cool stories and history of DC!
So today, Monday, we awoke with a few hours to enjoy our nation’s capital, but mostly with high hopes and eagerness to meet with our congresswoman from the central coast, Lois Capps. We had numerous discussions about what we hoped to accomplish at our meeting (which we had arranged way back in April), and at 3:15 pm, found ourselves in the Rayburn Office Building, adjacent the the Capital Building, where her office is located. Our meeting was incredibly successful, but I’m going to hand the IPad over to Devon to give you the details……
We walked into Representative Capps’ lobby and immediately felt close to the central coast. Her walls were decorated with pictures of many of the beautiful areas on the coast, so even though we were thousands of miles away I felt an amazing connection with our home on the central coast.
At 3:30 on the dot we walked into Rep. Capps office where we sat and talked about everything this ride has been striving for. It was amazing that this entire ride was culminating here in this office, and I couldn’t imagine a better place for us to be. Rep. Capps seemed extremely sympathetic for our cause, and was very impressed with what we have already achieved.
We walked in with several goals that we think are essential to saving sharks at the 11th hour. Those three things were as follows:
1) list many more species of sharks under the Endangered Species Act. The listing of these species is essential to getting protection and in reestablishing already depleted populations.
2) pass federal legislation that would follow what the western states (Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii and Illinois) have already done, namely, to ban the sale or possession of shark fins.
3) and lastly, ensure that federal regulations do not weaken or undermine the already strong laws in the five states listed above.
We laid out these three requests and are extremely encouraged by Rep. Capps’ response. We came up with some great ways to accomplish these goals, and have a long tough road ahead of us in order to make sure to follow through with these ideas. But the backing of a representative is a huge, and extremely important first step.
As the meeting concluded Mark and I walked out the door and couldn’t help but dance up and down the hall (literally). The step we took today was a huge one, and we will continue to work with Representative Capps’ office to achieve our goals.
Few people get the chance to do what we did today, and Mark and I feel extremely privileged to have been able to meet with our representative and to be attempting to make a difference. And while the bike ride may be over, we still have a lot of work to do to save the sharks.
So there you have it. Devon and I stepped into Rep Capps office and described our campaign; the ride, our benefit concert, and our hopes for the preservation of sharks around the world. We explained how an estimated 100 million sharks are killed each year for their fins. We described the slow reproductive rate of sharks and how many species do not mate until they are 10-15 years old. We shared how the slaughter is indescriminate – how neither age, sex nor species matters, and that there are now roughly only 1/10th as many sharks in the sea as there were 20 years ago. We described the crucial role sharks have played in the sea for the last 350 million years, and that it is hard to imagine how the oceans can function normally with their top predators gone. And we explained that at present rates, most shark species will be extinct – gone forever- in ten years time. That this issue is urgent, and that sharks need an advocate in Congress.
Devon and I feel certain beyond any doubt that we have found that advocate in Lois Capps.
Now that this bike campaign has drawn to a successful close, it is time for all of us (that means everyone who understands and cares about the health of the oceans) to roll up our sleeves, and work in tandem with our Congresswoman, and make the changes necessary to ensure the survival of these creatures.
Thanks everyone for your support. Your comments mean so much to us! Stay tuned for how you can help.
Mark and Devon
The plaque posted at the entrance to Rep. Capps office
Rep. Capps listened, asked questions, obviously cared and offered suggestions on how to move forward with protection of sharks.