Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Vox Populi

Back to Square One.

A new fight has erupted in Hawaii over a planned Shark Viewing operation.
Like the hugely popular Hawaii Shark Encounters, it would operate three miles offshore outside of State waters and thus escape State regulation.

As always in these cases, the residents are up in arms.
Once again, there's talk of "ringing the dinner bell" and all the other commonplace prejudices.
Like it or not, that's what most people believe and I did like hearing that the operator is planning to address the concerns with the community. Best of luck on that one!
I also did like his focus on Conservation. That might of course just be a marketing gig but if HSE's non-profit Shark Allies is any indication, we may well take that at face value. For now.

Still, it's gonna be an uphill battle.
People's minds are set, fueled by despicable rubbish published in the media and by the primeval fear of being eaten alive. Very very hard to overcome, especially since in Hawaii, Shark Attacks are a fact - and maybe even on the rise! Yes, it's a tiny number compared to the number of aquatic recreationists - but still!

In the meantime, the true perpetrators continue to operate in complete immunity.
There, I've said it again!

Best of luck out there!
Looking forward to yet another Ecotourism operation!
And don't forget: it comes with obligations!

PS: the plans have been canceled due to the pressure by the community.
A great shame!

PS2: RTSea has just weighed in with this exhaustive and important post - read it!


4 comments:

the One called "Bitey".... said...

I just read about this issue, and I have to admit I'm on the fence in this case (as always, we must take everything case-by-case, rationally). While I've taken part in the Hale'iwa operations, greatly enjoying myself and finding no fault with the operation itself, Maunaloa does have much more human traffic - and the point made that there is the potential for skewing the balance of the local ecosystem by simply dumping food into the offshore currents is troubling. It appears that they're not talking about an organized feed, like Beqa's Shark Reef or Stuart Cove's operation, but simply throwing food into the water; this is something you wouldn't do with any other group of animals in any ecosystem, so why do it in a heavily-trafficked area? While I generally genuinely support efforts to bring people over to seeing and loving sharks, this particular effort could have sharks suffer severe additional backlash should there be even a single incident.... This potential is enough to warrant serious consideration, no?
If we could find a way to organize real dives to specific reefs for shark viewing, I think that's a different story.

DaShark said...

Terry, that's a very valid point of course.

Everything is situation specific and it is certainly the obligation of the operator to set up procedures that ensure a maximum of safety - for everybody, not just his customers.

We for one do not introduce more food that what gets consumed right away. I see no reason why that shouldn't be possible in an oceanic environment, maybe by just baiting with enclosed crates, etc.

As to the "imbalance" - been there,seen that.
Alas, there is no more pristine "Mother Nature" out there.
Barring dumping truckloads of garbage, the "imbalance" is likely to be caused by the heavy traffic, the sports fishing etc, not some additional fish scraps.

Shark Diver said...

The big issue here is the politics of shark diving in the USA. Florida is done, Nor Cal has been legislated out, and Hawaii is the last stand.

As goes Hawaii so goes Isla Guadalupe - politically we can ill afford this sites shut down.

DaShark said...

About bloody time you re-surface amigo! Welcome back!

Yes, agree!
I may be repeating myself... but one way to -maybe- pre-empt these developments is creating marine parks with entrance fees, user protocols (!), enforcement, science etc. like in Cocos and the Galapagos.
That veneer of "seriousness" could defuse some of the attacks, albeit by no means all of them.

Alas, this venture smells of poor preparation, media control and community outreach.
Having said this, offering Shark dives in densely populated areas will always be extremely difficult.