Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hic Rhodus hic salta!


Trash talking blog-dawgs out there, no less!
Wow! Would that by any chance be always polite and mellow moi???
My-oh-my!

Patric alerts me to this remarkable blog post by Eli.
The way that blog works, that post is now on top but will eventually disappear and you’ll have to search for November 29, 2010. I’ve said it before, the man is onto something! Anyway, good to have a reaction and to see that the issue is now firmly on the table!
And good fun, too!

So, let’s examine his views and compare them to my last post about Cat Island.

  • Trickle-down economy, ie ecotourism and involvement of local stakeholders - check
  • MPA, i.e. conservation - check.
    But, one has to look at the local circumstances. Here in Fiji, the reefs belong to government but are held in trust by the villages, and hence both entities can agree to set an area aside. No idea about the Bahamas but as I said, if the locals agree not to enable the killing of Sharks, they will be able to stop the local fishermen and at least enact de-facto conservation and enforcement – check.
  • Marine Park fee - check.
    But only in exchange for conservation!
  • Science - check.
    But, I believe that it has to be enacted from day one, at least in the form of a baseline count. And in this specific case: in view of the new protection of OWTs in the Atlantic (tho alas not in the Bahamas), how about helping the enforcement by getting in contact with Mahmood and establishing the genetic fingerprint of the Atlantic population by collecting DNA samples!
  • Catch & release fishing - check.
    Yes it is not appealing but this is the real world
  • Co-operation among operators - check
  • Protocols – fail.
    Since I just know that yer gonna be reading this: Buddy I used to be like, if not worse than you but this is not about having fun anymore – this is now about commercial Shark diving and on top of that, the global media are instantaneous and will hone in on any mistakes we make and propagate the myth of the killer beast. Those stunts don’t dispel the myth, they just lead to more headlines of a brave (or stupid) man defying death and the like.
    Yes we hand feed, too, but in very different circumstances and above all, on our own dive, in highly controlled conditions, with animals we’ve known for years and above all, in a place where no other dive shops operate and where the animals have been conditioned to observe always exactly the same uniform and thus predictable routine - for them, not us!
    Over to the Oceanic Whitetips, there’s squillions of dive operators in the Red Sea with ample experience in diving with them and if you don’t believe me, use your own contacts and ask them what they thing about snorkeling with this species in baited conditions! Guess we’ll continue to disagree on this one and I’ll continue to talk trash for as long as we will.
    Nothing personal btw!
Governments?
Agree and disagree.
I may be fortunate but I’ve yet to meet a single fisheries official who does not support sustainable fisheries (but fisheries never-the-less! Global prohibition, as in CITES, is nothing but wishful thinking!) and the according conservation measures. Yes I hear that in some places corruption is rampant but then again, it’s mostly situated further up the food chain and can be tackled if one has the guts to speak up and expose it, the more as most countries dispose of the relevant laws.

The real problem is the politicians who shun any decision that may in any way alienate their constituency and who thus continue to impede any legislative measures.
Unfortunately, the true conservationists are merely a small minority of the votes, so we’ll have to continue coming up with unusual strategies - and correct, paying for conservation is one of them, especially in lesser developed countries.

Anyway, talk as always is cheap and the proof is in the pudding.
Now go do it, starting with flying over there and establishing a dialogue with the locals – and trust me, it won’t be easy! In the spirit of cooperation, you can get all the project papers, research data, proposals, cash flow etc from here which as you know is a great template – just write to the dive shop & we’ll mail it over.

Hic Insula Cattorum – hic salta!

6 comments:

Shark Diver said...

Blog-Doggerific to me.

Wait, am I am a blog-dog too?

Yes?

Damn.

OfficetoOcean said...
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OfficetoOcean said...

Oh and one more quic thing...

If something becomes solely about money, then it becomes subject to corruption and if money is the driving force, then the few will benefit while the many see little to no benefit at all and when the corruption rears it's ugly head, that's when it all goes a bit wrong...

By all means, show the benefit of commercial gain in conservation but show that gain as a long term and widely beneficial gain, with that, uphold responsibility to educate and then you're on to a winner...

People learn, people enjoy, people benefit and everybody, including the sharks, can be happy about that

Shark Diver Magazine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shark Diver Magazine said...

Agree to disagree indeed...
I thank you for posting some of my ideas. Your Fiji operation is a great model for what I believe is the sharks only future left to them. However I do NOT agree with everything you say about me. The first and biggest thing is you don't know me. You know of me through second hand information, but you have never taken the time to get to know me. Second is you have never dove with me, so you have no idea how I conduct a shark dive when I am in the water with friends, and when I am in the water with clients. You have said many a thing about me over the years, and I chose never to comment on any of it, because to me, its like throwing stones in a glass house. Pointless. As far as hand feeding goes, I understand you all have a track record and sharks that you have been interacting with for years, but that still does not make it a safe or predictable dive, thats like saying your sharks have been domesticated. they are wild animals, and they must always be respected. Which I do, I never take them for granted. I am sure you don't either, but it is dangerous to believe it is perfect.

The reality is, if you want to get to know me, then come and dive with me, and you will see first hand who I am and what I care about. Until then, well you are free to say and think what ever you like.

anyway, thanks again for sharing your thoughts with me, and as for the future of Cat Island, and the EPIC Diving op...well you will find out soon enough how real me and my action words are.

I will say this what you and Gary and friends have done on Fiji is the model I believe needs to exist for the shark parks of the future.

So to you and your blog-dog buddies, (nothing personal) I wish you all the very best and very safe diving.

DaShark said...

Bula Eli
Thank you for this.
This may surprise you but I completely agree with what you say!

But… !
By your own choice, you are now very much a public person and a media pro on top of that.
As such, you are now totally defined by the media you enable. That is the messaging and the images I and 99.9% of the people out there get to see and that, not you as a person, is what I sometimes comment about.

E.g. if in the video you (?) have posted on EPIC diving I see people snorkeling with OWTs, I assume that that’s what it’s gonna be, the more as the website mentions snorkeling and diving - fair?
Obviously we all learn as we get more experienced, e.g. when you came to Fiji, there were maybe 15 Bulls, now there are 50+ and all our procedures have become way more stringent accordingly.

My personal fear is that Sharks are becoming the next Dolphin.
Ironically, both the huggers and the extreme divers are propagating the same kind of nonsense and behaving equally recklessly underwater, and some operators continue to pander to that crowd.
IMO, you as a trend setter and I as an operator should combat those developments.

Anyway, wish you the best of luck with Cat Island!
This has all the potential for becoming a terrific dive destination if all gets put into place correctly. Difficult but possible.
Any help we may extend, say the word.