Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Bahamas - Shark Free Marinas!

The guys of Shark Diver have started an initiative.

Here's what they write (and don't miss the ensuing interesting discussion thread right here!):

"We have decided to act.
The Government of the Bahamas allows sport fishing for sharks and we fully support sustainable catch-and-release fisheries. However, the taking of gravid female sharks for a one-time photo op and a set of jaws is a senseless waste of a valuable resource.

The Shark-Free Marinas Initiative is a way to work with existing resort marinas in the Bahamas that cater to sport fishing vessels, seeking their cooperation in asking them not to allow sharks to be taken and displayed at their marinas. This initiative, in turn, encourages the use of catch-and-release programs and promotes sustainable fisheries.

Each marina and resort that supports this initiative will receive both, a metal sign and logo we have created to post in their marina office and the following information for posting on their marina websites:

(Name of resort and marina) supports the Shark-Free Marinas Initiative in the Bahamas region. The Bahamas is home to many shark species and the healthy reef systems that support these sharks. We feel the one-time harvesting of sharks for photo images or souvenir jaws is not in the best interests of the Bahamian people or Bahamian tourism.

Worldwide, sharks are being decimated for fins and jaws at a completely unsustainable rate. An estimated 60 million sharks per year are taken in this manner. By asking vessels not to arrive at our facilities with sharks, we hope to encourage responsible sport fishing, thereby ensuring a lasting and healthy population of sharks in Bahamian waters for future generations and contributing to the overall health of the Caribbean.

Please practice catch-and-release with all sharks and enjoy our facilities.

Welcome to the Bahamas.

Editors Note (this being Shark Diver...): This initiative is not only limited to the Bahamas and the several marinas who have expressed an interest in joining it (press release to follow). As a concept we will allow and help promote any organization or group to use this logo to enact their own regional Shark-Free Marinas. In places like Florida and the East coast this could conceivably help redirect shark kills and weigh ins. It offers the opportunity for marinas to claim the "Green Card" while at the same time redirecting fishermen into sustainable fisheries. Special thanks to Richard Theiss RTSea Productions."

This Editor says: Well done!!!
This is thinking outside of the box at its very best. It creates a win-win situation by promoting a feel-good, green label that could motivate the Marinas to participate in view of the likely positive publicity this would bring about. If one could quickly reach critical mass, it is safe to assume that other Marinas will be compelled to follow suit, if only to avoid becoming the odd man out.

Which begs the question, will the Bahamas Dive Association support this initiative and declare all of their Marinas off-bounds for landed Sharks? Will they be at the forefront in trying to convince other Marinas to join in?
After all, one would assume that those Dive Operators operate Marinas where fishing plays, if at all, only a secondary role. Instead, they cater to divers who are generally very receptive to Conservation. Their joining would thus be virtually "risk free", without putting any of their principal business at jeopardy but instead, with the benefit of earning plenty of brownie points from their customers.

After the infamous and embarrassing weighing-in of their President during the Bahamas Shark Incident controversy (and I spare you the link), they find themselves long on words and short on action.
Or have they bothered to pick up the ball when, once again, Shark Diver proposed to have Tiger Beach declared a protected area?
Yeah, right.

Guys, the world is watching...

And for you out there that may want to do some "prodding": here are the land-based ops, and here, the liveaboards - e-mail and all!

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