Thursday, June 13, 2013

Shark Conservation and Research in Fiji - new Volunteer Program!

Our new partners in crime! :)

And now, to some really great news!

Projects Abroad has just unveiled their latest, and I may add, greatest program and I invite you to check it out here.
I say, awesome!

This has been quite a process.
We've been pondering and negotiating about this for a very long time indeed as we wanted to make absolutely certain that our involvement would result in good science enabling us to further expand on our ongoing conservation projects.
In practice, that meant 
  • obtaining the cooperation and oversight of reputable researchers, along with adequate funding
  • formulating relevant research projects instead of the all-too-common volunteer fluff
  • putting into place a stable local long-term project management structure where we would retain an important role in terms of project oversight and leadership
  • ensuring adequate accountability in terms of progress, timeliness, budgetary discipline, communication etc, the lack of which has so often fatally crippled similar ventures, especially in the SoPac
  • and last but by no means last, avoiding any undue interference by any of the usual outside interests!
All of which I'm happy to say has been achieved!

Projects Abroad have been nothing short of stellar.
This is largely due to the Project Manager who brings to the table the rarest of combinations, i.e. a profound knowledge and passion for marine conservation paired with rock-solid project management skills, business sense and pragmatism. And, she's a dive instructor and highly experienced Shark diver with years of experience working in our industry! How much better than that can it get!
She will be in Fiji supervising the logistical setup and initial implementation of the various projects, and we could really not have asked for a better partner!

And the projects?
More will be revealed in due course - but in general terms, here's what we will be focusing on, this in parallel with the GFSC and in view of eventually helping to formulate robust data-based Shark conservation plans
  • Bull Sharks: nurseries, early life stages from riverine to reef-dwelling, reproductive and possibly natal philopatry, parentage analysis, population assessments, etc
  • MPAs: long term effects on Elasmobranch abundance and species composition
In addition, notable activities will consist in
  • Mangroves: continuation and expansion of MFF - where incidentally, excellent new developments are looming!
  • Shark and marine conservation outreach
  • eventually, cooperation with selected tertiary education institutions, NGOs and even government entities - when and where appropriate and mutually beneficial
Long story short?
If you're interested in making a hands-on contribution to cutting-edge and important Shark research and marine conservation projects under the guidance of some of the word's leading experts (!), this is the program for you - and this pretty much regardless of your previous experience as there will be a useful role for everybody, from total newbie to fully fledged university graduate!

Incidentally, this is not an alternative to the High School and College summer programs with our long-term partner Broadreach where activities are centered around attending Shark courses and diving within the SRMR, and vice versa!
Where theirs is education within the framework a summer camp, this is about partaking in ongoing research and conservation projects where activities are not centered around the SRMR - but don't worry, you will be given the opportunity to do a bit of epic Shark diving as well! :)

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