Thursday, February 12, 2015

Patric - peaceful Coral Conservation?

Beware - the whirling dervish of marine conservation is back!

So, what is this stuff?
Prima vista, somebody wants to turn the global shorelines into some sort of Atlantis-like theme parks by plastering them with some kitschy fusion of  Mayan, South East Asian and ancient civilizations - and quite frankly, my initial reaction as a rather traditionalist marine conservation advocate has been a mixture of derision, disbelief and outrage.
But upon closer inspection, things may be a tad more nuanced than that.

Turns out that this is Patric Douglas 2.0.
Yes that would be HE, the devil incarnate of the global Shark diving industry where the infamous creature spent a decade running circles around his competition whilst gleefully trash talking and blog dogging his little black heart out - and where in the process, he managed to drag the entire kicking and screaming industry straight into the 21st century!

And Patric is nothing if not unconventional.
some of his proposals are really way out there where I have problems following, at least at first glance - but time after time, as results are being achieved and emotions are being superseded by pragmatism and dispassionate analysis, I discover that I end up by ultimately agreeing with his ideas. 
So for the time being, I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt.
The proof is obviously in the pudding, and only time will tell whether his idea is the latest visionary brainchild of a consummate lateral thinker, or whether it is nothing more than some outlandish money making scheme. 
For me, this project will be credible if it will indeed establish viable habitat and contribute to Coral restoration - and if not, not. I don't doubt that it will be successful - but if the marine conservation does not lead to tangible results, then it will be nothing more than a clever business idea that may rake in serious money for Reef Word and tourism operators alike. Nothing wrong with that - but in terms of marine conservation, it will be nothing more than the usual greenwashing, albeit on a monumental scale, and yes, pun intended. We shall see!
Be it as it may, I invite you to explore the exhaustive website as below the usual Patric-esque all-pervading multiple layers of breathy marketing, you will discover a wealth of serious considerations that will maybe prompt you to give pause and maybe, just maybe reconsider your initial reservations.

But now to the juicy part! :)
The man is blogging again - and I for one don't believe for a second that no one on this blog is taken to task like he boldly, and I may add, rather naively asserts!

Yes Coral and Reef people don't wear bird cages on their head quite yet.
And I'm totally with My name is Shiva, so? when she observes that
Researchers have no skins, they are opaque netherworld creatures that flit from one thing to another, occasionally deigning to drop 'pearls of knowledge' upon those beneath them.

You know, like pigeons.

But unlike pigeons, if you grab one from the air they become offended and irate - but never violent.

Instead, they call in other researchers who flit through the breeze to defend the 'offended one' unleashing a barrage of 'pearls of knowledge' upon those that would dare question or corner. 
Yes, indeed, mostly.
But then again, my personal observation is that the arcane and seemingly peaceful word of Coral conservation is very much predicated on not upsetting the apple cart.
This is prime marine NGO territory, meaning that there's tons of money and plenty of nice, cozy and only moderately challenging little careers at stake here, and this is a tranquil oasis of peace and contentment where everybody appears to tacitly agree that debate and strife carry the risk of ruining the party for everybody. So they quietly plod along harmoniously and peacefully in their little universe that remains blissfully oblivious of such mundane technicalities like deliverables, ROIs, timelines let alone accountability whilst the donors are successfully being conned out of convinced to contribute ever more money to what are essentially open-ended endeavors with zero likelihood of ever being completed. 
Yes maybe a tad harsh and cynical considering the many bleeding hearts out there - but is it that far off the mark?

So what if somebody came along with a different solution.
A solution that would predicate that conservation could be run like a for-money venture, with zero donations but instead, with the full complement of capitalistic project management where what counts is productivity and where procrastination and bullshit walk. A solution that would risk upsetting the applecart.
Think the oh-so-peaceful community of career conservationists and coralniks would simply meekly acknowledge the impending existential challenge?

Having been there myself, I think I know the answer.
Both the Fiji Shark Project (a self-funded capitalistic venture) and MFF (a self-funded capitalistic venture) that are now being hailed as ground-breaking were initially met with disdain to outright hostility by the established conservation mafia - and I'm also detecting quite a bit of the usual underhanded whispers and snotty snobbishness in acknowledging the true potential of the essentially self funding and capitalistic public/private partnership that has been pioneered in Fiji's first National Marine Park
And being very much party to an ongoing project that is collecting evidence to determine whether a recently declared MPA is legit or instead a scam where an NGO has squandered scarce conservation funds and lied to donors and the public; and having witnessed the reaction of said NGO upon getting wind of the impending investigation, I'm highly skeptical that matters will continue to be pervaded by the same karmic tranquility as Patric appears to anticipate.

Plus, Patric is Patric.
Like me, he hates bullshit and being confronted with said excretions, his visceral inclination is very much not to merely hold his nose and look the other way.

We shall see.
There will be temptation - and I for one look forward to plenty of corally fireworks!
Anybody taking bets?

Anyway, welcome back Sir.
It has been way too long - and yes, please do reserve some space for the occasional dabbling in more Sharky matters!

1 comment:

Patric Douglas said...

It has been eons since I spat Chai Tea all over my shirtfront reading a blog post from you Sir, and yet, here I am with soaked shirtfront and a big grin on my face;)

Well said.

As for coral people, nicest folks on the planet, working with next to no money on a titanic "out of sight out of mind" issue that few people seem to care about - reef loss.

While I would like to take the original idea for Dynamic Reefs, that grand distinction happily belongs to a true visionary and artist by the name a Jason DeCaires Taylor.

Here's his work, Cancun was transformed by his initial vision.

We're scaling the vision and adding much needed business elements to it for large scale roll outs around the world.

Jason is very happy being an artist smashing comfortably held conventional wisdoms about oceans conservation.

As you know I am very happy being me smashing comfortably held conventional wisdoms about everything else.

Coral folks are in desperate need of two things:

1.Large scale funding for projects and innovation

2.Large scale engagement from the public, the whole "shark finning immediacy" to conservation

I think we can get there if we start treating denuded resort house reefs like we do landscaping, but with art and cultural touchstones underwater as the focal point.

We'll see where this little caper takes us. As for stepping on toes, this time I have no intention of getting involved in anyones regional issues - unless of course they start wearing birdcages and deciding to call that coral conservation.

At the end of the day we're all pushing some needle somewhere towards change.


Patric Douglas CEO
Reef Worlds