Sunday, November 25, 2012

Playa - more dead Sharks?

It just never stops does it.

Check out these pics - and these!
From what I can understand, these are fishermen from Puerto Morelos, half way between Playa and Cancun, and they may, or may not be sneaking over at night to capture those big pregnant Bull Sharks that visit Playa during the pupping (and diving) season. Apparently, they dispose of the relevant fishing permits (but not for Playa!), making this legal - but certainly not right!

There has been a national and international outcry, and there is a petition
Good luck with that.

My call, granted without disposing of the full picture.
Our Fiji Shark Project hinges on compensating the local stakeholders and thus making conservation more lucrative than fishing - and it clearly does work.
With that in mind, here's what I would do - already hinted at in this post.
  • Get the Shark dive operators to work together - yes I know, that's a long shot. And if that's not possible, assume leadership and do it solo. The others will follow due to competitive pressure, like the guys down the road were forced to follow after we established the SRMR.
  • Establish a Shark dive levy of USD 20.00/pp/pd on top of the regular price for the Shark dive. Divers love paying for conservation, so that should be easy.
  • Disburse those funds to the fishermen (not the authorities), ideally earmarked for something concerning their families, like e.g. children's tuition, etc.
  • In exchange, obtain an agreement about a seasonal fishing ban for the critical habitats involving a) a ban on targeted Shark fishing and b) a ban on gear that is likely to result in Shark bycatch e.g. gill nets, wire leaders, very strong fishing lines etc.
    This is much easier than trying to establish a year-round Sanctuary or MPA, the more as it can initially be merely a private agreement with the local fishermen thus not requiring legislation that is always a tedious process. But do aim to get some legislation confirming the above in the long run, if only at the municipal/local level. Having established a track record of cooperation will certainly help!
  • Establish patrols - maybe even involving the fishermen that could be paid from the Shark levy. On top of that, maybe the staff of the Shark diving operators can be deputized like we've done here - remember that apart from the conservation aspects, you would be defending your own business assets!
  • Bring in the research in order to get the data for further refining the process.
Just my two cents as always.
Wishing you the very best of success - and if you want to discuss, you know how to reach me!

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