Thursday, April 05, 2012

South Africa: one Submission, two Petitions - and plenty of Hypochrisy & frothy Activism!

SA Great White by Dirk Schmidt

Well well.
Fisher's South African caper is attracting plenty of interesting chatter and activism.

First, we got ourselves not one but two petitions! Yay!
Both have been created, or whatever, by one Chris Hartzell, another one of the token Californian Sesselfurzer that found it fit to publicly fart some rubbish during the Junior controversy. His expertise: occasional cage diving in Lupe to heroically document animals slamming into cages - and I will certainly leave it at that, the more as like his expert pronouncements, those petitions are nothing more than hot perfumed air and will achieve zero as usual!

But there is also a submission.
Yes I've posted the link because I find it rather good, albeit in places unnecessarily argumentative - and no I won't go into detail as overall, it's a valiant effort that needs to be commended, the more as it appears to have elicited some interest by Dr. Alan Boyd.
From what I understand, Boyd is the person who ultimately controls all permits including those of the researchers and commercial operators and thus the big honcho man nobody in his right mind wants to start messing with.
Frothy petitioning or no frothy petitioning, the final decision in this matter will be taken by him - so it's good that he is at least considering.

My prediction: the circus will go ahead.
Fisher is certainly crafty and appears to have it pretty much tied down by having obtained the active support of the SA Government's Department of Marine and Coastal Management for which Dr. Boyd works, and by having successfully roped in a whole gaggle of local researchers for whom the double temptation of perceived global fame and money has obviously proven to be irresistible.
It's a big, well coordinated effort, it has already been set into motion, plenty of Sharks have been tagged and plenty of tracks are already being published, and I just cannot imagine that Boyd will pull the plug now that things are so well under way - but who knows.

On a side note.
Among the researchers, I hear, Ryan Johnson, Enrico Gennari, Alison Towner etc.

Ring a bell?
Yes those three are among the authors of this paper about the damage caused by SPOT tags. To be fair, the paper examines sub-adult GWs where rapid growth may compound the problem, meaning that the effects on the adult Sharks which are apparently being targeted now may be less drastic. But I also read this
the effects of removing large (>450 cm) white sharks from the water in order to deploy SPOT tags are still unknown and should also be considered.

My personal call, so be it.
After what has happened in Lupe and California, I must say that I've come to equally despise Fisher's bombastic clamoring but also, the anal frothiness of the various SPOT tagging opponents.

Where I'm personally coming from is that I continue to hate the current technology.
For very personal and highly irrational reasons (= I love our Sharks) and very much despite of the following, I shall not enable any such research until the gizmos have been finally fixed.

But I must confess that I equally love the tracks and the insights that have been garnered from the tagging - and if they were perfectly honest, so do many of the detractors!
Having tried my best to educate myself and having had literally countless conversations (and heated debates!) with Shark researchers, I have been convinced that every one of them is acutely aware of the current misgivings and is honestly trying to develop better technical solutions.
But at the same time, the dire situation of global Shark stocks mandates that we find out as much as we can about their life history as fast as we can, and satellite telemetry is one of the most effective tools for obtaining many of those vital data. Depending on situation and species, this may well mandate the deployment of SPOT tags - and trying to decipher the multi-year migration patterns of GWs may just be such a case.

Fisher and his wandering freak show will move on.
But if Government and the researchers are smart (which is not a given!) and have read the fine print before signing away their life to crafty Chris, they will at least own the data that will hopefully result in new insights - and yes, hopefully in better protection as well!
Conservation of highly migratory species is obviously difficult - but as e.g. the GW research from the Eastern Pacific is revealing, there exist well defined migration highways and well defined activity hotspots and time frames, meaning that at least in theory, we can now concentrate on specific locations and enact seasonal fishing bans which is certainly much easier to achieve than blanket protection (Playa: hint hint...!).
The practical implementation will always remain the practical implementation with all of its many hurdles: but at least we are beginning to find out what will be most effective.

And in the specific case of SA?
I have no doubt that patterns will turn out to be similar - and who knows, now that Dr.Boyd is so much involved, may he even be developing a new appreciation of the resource he is tasked to manage? May he even become more accessible to the arguments of those who are fighting for the removal of the KZN Shark nets that are equally subject to the regulating power of the MCM?
Yeah I know I know... I'm now clearly faffing myself!

Kudos to Dirk Schmidt and against all odds, best of luck!

As always, we shall see shall we not!

PS exhaustive statement by Johnson/Fisher/Boyd here - and I must grudgingly admit, rather compelling as well!


Chris Hartzell said...

Well, quite the article. Nothing like free publicity through controversy, even if it is written in a half-assed and uneducated manner. Too bad you didn't contact me before you wrote it. I could have at least gotten you to correctly spell Fischer's name. It's also too bad you didn't do just a bit of research too. In one breath your bad-mouthing my petitions and the next giving Dirk Schmidt praise. Actually, Dirk and myself have been working together on the issue and the petitions were my work, at his suggestion. You must not have even read the petitions because they squarely hit your complaints about Fischer. And Sesselfurzer? Sounds like you heard it on the radio and have been dying to use the word since. The article just proves there are "reporters" and then there are "bloggers". Regardless, if there is anyone who is genuinely interested in keeping up on the issue, you can follow it on FB at the White Shark Interest Group where all the pros/cons are being discussed.

Chris Hartzell said...

P.S. Do you have written permission to use the photographs to post on your site? Or are you just violating Copyright laws hoping no one will notice? Or, like your articles, maybe you didn't bother to research how Copyright laws actually work. I guess us Sesselfurzer's are the only ones with time to do some research. Hmmm...

DaShark said...

Bula Chris

Indeed, when pondering the pros and cons of SPOT tagging, I had a choice:

Contact a couch farting fireman from California who wants to target anybody using SPOT tags - or contact the relevant research community.

You, too, had a choice.
Contact the people involved in the SA effort and get some education - or launch two global petitions that look even stupider now that Johnson & Co's have published their detailed rebuttal

And so it goes...