Sunday, July 31, 2011

Juliet - excellent Job, again!

I must say, I'm increasingly impressed by the rather formidable Juliet Eilperin.

I first noticed her promo video and now comes this article in Foreign Policy.
Like Richard remarks, it is refreshingly factual and devoid of the usual pathos and hype, and this in spite of the difficult topic, the recent rise in reported Shark attacks. This is excellent, well documented and highly erudite journalism for which she needs to be commended.
Required reading - and BTW, what a monumental difference to the usual pathetic explanations by the Sesselfurzer!

Incidentally, I've also just finished reading Demon Fish.
More about it later but for now, only this: the praise is well deserved!


Saturday, July 30, 2011

55 dead Baby Hammerheads?

Shocking picture! But...

Please re-read Rick's post.
Did you notice the part about the moronic comments?
Case in point, yesterday's scoop by the GSCI - copy/paste.

The Global Shark Conservation Initiative 55 baby hammerheads, a full new generation, was lost because 1 man wanted to have the "fun to reel in" a big shark...
The world-record hammerhead caught by a local fishing guide last month was big for a reason.

  • 3 people like this.

    • Jill Hirschi that guy deserves to be shot!
      19 hours ago · 2 people

    • Mia Evans He deserves his stomach cut open like this poor shark
      19 hours ago · 1 person

    • Elisa Plati What a freiken loser!!!!! Give him to me with a hook and fishing line and I will show him how much damage they can do!!! Seriously so much life lost for one mans selfish goal!!! Disgusting!!!
      18 hours ago

    • Rising Sun Wee ‎: "Real Men protect, they do not harm the young for any reason."
      17 hours ago · 4 people

    • Heather Woolley Oh Man,does this once again not show the need for some of the males in our species to dominate,prove,and behave in the most cruel way against Nature and the rest of Humanity.Does the big dog,big dick syndrom apply here?or my weapns bigger than your weapon?I hasten to add there are gentle and kind males out there too,who dont need to pove they are the Hunters of the Cave dwelling days!
      17 hours ago

    • Lee Kharod bad enough to catch for sport but what ever happened to catch and release?
      16 hours ago

    • Roon Sumner Oh The Humanity!!
      16 hours ago

    • Stephen William THIS fuckin ass clown should be killed!!! When the fuck are people gonna realize what the hell they are doing??? I CANNOT even begin to fathom the mindset of someone like this!!! Like others said, catch and release if you must feel the need to catch animals such as this!!! This asshole must have a small dick to feel the need to slaughter something so amazing as a 40+ year old shark and drag its majestic lifeless corpse back to a dock to show off!!!! Wanna prove yer a "big man" and have balls??? Why not get dropped off some where and go Taliban or terrorist hunting??? Oh thats to dangerous cause they can shoot back???!! Fuckin pussy!!!
      15 hours ago

    • Jason A Creech The knee-jerk, human reaction to this kind of slaughter by those of us sympathetic to ocean-life, and all life for that matter, is usually anger and blame. This anger and blame is ineffectual and misdirected. Through activism and policy change the responsibility lies with us. There are always going to be shortsighted, pitiless idiots. We can wish them dead but wish in one hand and poop in the other and see which one fills up first. Act, vote, sign petitions. Anger is a gift.
      14 hours ago · 2 people

    • Kevin Van der Beeuren What a complete idiot! 'Stop looking at me I didn't do anything wrong... How old is he...' I wanna dive with hammerheads!
      14 hours ago

    • Tonya Camp What a sad, monumental waste! All for someone's 'big thrill'.
      3 hours ago
Did anybody bother to read the article in the link?
Did anybody notice that the article is from 2006? It says it right there - twice!
How utterly embarrassing - and how revealing!

But Jason is of course correct.
It is not about who screeches the stupidest and loudest, it is about effecting change.

Here is what has happened since.
Bucky killed another record pregnant Hammerhead in 2009 and the ensuing debate motivated a few good people among which the Shark Brothers, Bob Heuter and Guy Harvey to embark on reforming game fishing for Sharks. The result: the Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge Tournament Series - where the very same Bucky Dennis is now practicing catch-and-release fishing for Sharks! I still don't like it - but it sure is a big step in the right direction and as always in real conservation, it is a pragmatic compromise and the result of much hard work.
Now, how motivating is it gonna be for Bucky to have his name dragged through the dirt five years after the fact and after he has voluntarily reformed the way he fishes?

And this is not all.
From what I understand, there is now a movement within the IGFA to abolish all-tackle weight records that will always result in pregnant females being targeted and killed. I am optimistic: if the gun toting trophy hunters have managed to outlaw killing pregnant females, so can the game fishermen who are increasingly advocating sustainable practices.

Plus, more good people have embarked on the arduous path of having Hammerheads protected in Florida - once again sans moronic screeching but with a lot of hard and persistent work on the ground. Here's the latest progress report with pointers about how to get involved - politely!

And the screeching activists?
I'd be lying if I said that I'm in any way surprised, or that I expect any improvements going forward. It is what it is and whilst those folks will continue to propagate their stupidities, others will thankfully continue working hard and hopefully (fingers crossed!) avoid being lumped in with the whacks, FINtastic and not.

And so it goes...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Bravo Bravo Bravo!

Image © 2011, John Bruno
A total of 379 sharks were onboard the Fer Mary I.
There were 303 bigeye thresher sharks (Alopias superciliosus, IUCN status: vulnerable), 42 silky sharks (Carcharhinus falciformis, IUCN status: near threatened), 24 blue sharks (Prionace glauca, IUCN status: near threatened), 5 smooth hammerhead sharks (Sphyma zygaena, IUNC status: vulnerable), 2 tiger sharks (Galeocerdo culvier, IUCN status: near threatened), 1 Galapagos shark (Carcharhinus galapagensis, IUCN status: near threatened), 1 short fin mako shark (Isurus oxyrhinchus, IUCN status: vulnerable), and 1 unidentified shark (missing head, tail, fins and part of body).

You and I get that fishing a low fecundity, slow growth, slow to reproductive maturity, supply limited species is a formula for ecological and economic ruin.

Scientists measure and sample illegally harvested sharks as they are returned to the sea from John Bruno on Vimeo.

But what are the options?
What will fill the revenue void for fishers if all shark finning was banned globally tomorrow? What sustainable fisheries trainings are being offered? And if no sustainable fishing alternatives are available, what alternative livelihoods are nations prepared to present? However stomach-churning the reality, waste, and short-sightedness of shark finning may be, I refuse to believe that all fishers engaged in the process are mindless savages bent on pursuing personal fortune. Perhaps some of them know what they are engaged in is an utterly unsustainable enterprise. but again, what does their option and opportunity landscape look like?

This post is as good as it gets.
Please read it and above all, please engage in some reflection.

I'm proud to know you Rick MacPherson!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Not BRAT after all!

Mea culpa!
I had another look at the video and did grab a few more screen shots: turns out that that Tiger was not BRAT but our old nemesis Adi, aka Princess!

Adi goes back all the way to 2005 when she turned up on a dive with Michael.
Check out his pic on the website, and Andrew's description: she was tiny but already with a huge attitude - and lemme tell you, the latter has only gotten worse! Case in point, Klaus' rather epic dive a few years ago where he managed to somehow snap the picture on top whilst fending off several attempts to chew on his strobes, and my screen shot for comparison.

Ozzie Sam agrees.
He diplomatically writes, this tiger is smaller than BRAT and I agree that she is almost over friendly and yes, after she thankfully took it onto herself to bump the housing a grand total of 8 times, camera running, on that dive alone, I would have to agree that she definitely is!
Here's one of Sam's usual stellar portraits, again with my screen shot for comparison - check out the pattern in the corner of the mouth.

And the pic on Juerg's blog?
Unequivocally the true BRAT, equally by Klaus - compare with the pictures here!

Thanks Sam, as always your assistance is greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Cute video and cute story!

And the man in the Shark suit?
Rumor has it that he's none other than the indefatigable but, and I cite: deplorable, self-centered, self-absorbed, egotistical, hate mongering, ignorant, insecure, piece of crap with very limited brain power and little to no social skills, Mr 2011 in 2011 himself!
How cool is that - and don't forget, y
ou heard it here first!

Anyway, enjoy!

Natural Predation - Wow!

Grey Reefs above, aggregating Groupers below - great pics by Paul McKenzie!

Check this out.

Is this awesome, or what?
These are spawning Camouflage Groupers, Epinephelus polyphekadion and you can see how the Grey Reefs attack as soon as the Groupers start ascending in the water column, with one successful predation on 0:55. I found the video on MCSI's Facebook page and having met those very Sharks who have bitten two of my friends (=intrepid Gallic feeders with no gloves) on different occasions, I must say that Michael Domeier who has documented the event is lucky to have escaped unscathed in the process!

The site?
Ah aint gonna tell you, tho Shark aficionados may have divined it from the initial scenes - and no, don't comment! Although this species is very often ciguatoxic (especially in that place!) and may thus escape persecution, spawning aggregations are often targeted by fishermen with catastrophic consequences for stocks.
Case in point: the depleted Nassau Groupers where however the Caymanian authorities appear to be doing a great job:

And then, there's us divers.
Here's what I believe is an equitable look at the pros and cons of dive tourism interfering with such iconic events, this being the famous mating aggregation of Cubera and Dog Snappers, and of the Whale Sharks feeding on their eggs at Gladden Spit.
Very much reminds me of Hanifaru where the Mantas are at risk of literally being loved to death!

Remember the Anthropogenic Allee Effect?
More in an upcoming post!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

NSW Grey Nurse Sharks: Bravo PADI!

I must say, I'm increasingly impressed by PADI Asia Pacific.
The team of Mike Holme has been nothing short of stellar whenever we have contacted them for assistance and advice, and now I learn that Project AWARE has thrown its weight behind the campaign aimed at restoring adequate protection for New South Wales' highly vulnerable stocks of GNS after the latest shameful fiasco.

Please read this appeal and please, do act now.
This is industry leadership and I am particularly happy to find an excellent letter that contains all the recommendations I've posted here. This is terribly urgent and important, the more as all the science shows that for all practical purposes, depleted Shark stocks have no real chance of rebounding once they get wiped out as that would take decades if not centuries, i.e. way beyond any reasonable time frame - and I trust that I don't need to remind you of the consequences for the marine environment including the future of those ignorant fishermen!

The GNS stocks are literally on the brink and we simply cannot afford to get this wrong.
The only way we can avert this ecological catastrophe is to show those inept politicians and their rabid cronies from the Fishers and Shooters party that the public wants nothing to do with their appalling disregard of the health of the environment.

Please, do write a letter now.
Please send a copy to David at and please, do mobilize your friends. Bloggers, please do re-post.
Submission close on Friday, August 26.
Once again, kudos to PADI.

PS Thank you Richard, much appreciated!

Monday, July 25, 2011

More Outreach by Ratu Manoa!

Beqa Bulls - great pic by Daniela!

In today's Fiji Times.

SHARKMAN Manoa Rasigatale hopes the sanctuary given to sharks by the people of Cakaudrove will reward them in tourism dollars.

He said live sharks were worth more than sharks dead.
"I thank the Turaga na Tui Cakau, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, for his assurance that Cakaudrove will support the protection of sharks. He has said that the island of Benau will be a sanctuary for sharks," said Mr Rasigatale, who leads the campaign for shark conservation.

The sharkman, working with Pew Environment Group and the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL), is pushing for legislation to turn Fiji's waters into a shark haven.

The Ministry of Fisheries is drafting a proposal for Cabinet to approve. Mr Rasigatale said Cakaudrove, and the rest of Fiji, should learn from countries that have given sharks sanctuaries.

He said the Bahamas earned $US78million ($F137.9m) annually from shark-related tourism activities.

The confederacies of Kubuna, Burebasaga and Tovata are supporting the campaign.

Little Swiss Heart?

Bullfighter - whilst David continues to hallucinate, MPO continues to deliver. Awesome!

Read David's new post here.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Kirsty and BRAT!

BRAT - always a handful! Click for detail!

Check out this post by Kirsty!
Broadreach are in country with both one High School and one College group and it is only fitting that the Tiger she mentions is BRAT, an acronym for BoadReach Academic Treks! She was named in 2008 by one of the High School groups (the picture on the website is by one of them) and has been visiting regularly ever since that day in May.

And what about the shy-bold continuum?
If the Blacktips are shy and the Silvertips are bold, BRAT is way off the scale, coming in from all directions and being your quintessential obnoxious beggar Shark. She will neither deign to pick tuna heads from the bottom but insist that she be given them by hand, nor does she understand that on our dive, there is only one single stationary feeder acting as the focal point. Like Patric observed in TB, this is alas the direct consequence of different dive ops employing different protocols when interacting with the same animals.
Nothing we can't handle the more as she is as mellow as it gets - but it sure demands everybody's fullest attention! :)

Anyway, great dive as witnessed by the perma-smiles on the kids and on the staff!
Life is good!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lightning Strike Productions: Showreel!

Ornate Eagle Ray, Aetomylaeus vespertilio at 03:10!

Awesome footage by Richard Brooks - kudos!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

David's first Video Diary - Cool!

Here's David's first message from the battlefield.

Blog post here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Duskies feeding!

Nice! :)
This is one of the most severely overfished Sharks, great to see so many at once!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jackass Bahamas?

Embedding is disabled - but u gotta watch this.

Moronic script here.
And here's a longer version revealing who portrays himself as a Shark conservationist but continues to enable these appalling stupidities.

End of rant.

Ratu Manoa - Awesome!

Please do read this.
It is a re-post of stellar two-page spread in yesterday's Fiji Times, originally authored by Ilaitia Turagabeci. When it comes to explaining the special traditional relationship between some Fijian tribes and Sharks, this is as good as it gets.
No wonder: Ilaitia was interviewing Ratu Manoa.

Iconic and revered.
These are probably the two most fitting adjectives when trying to describe the man that is Ratu Manoa Rasigatale. Deceivingly unassuming and humble, he is a rare mix of charm, passion, eloquence, wit and analytical intellect allowing him to command the respect of the entire spectrum of Fijian society, from the poor and disenfranchised all the way to the arcane circles of political and traditional power. We had a short chat a while ago and having told my staff, my status has experienced a sudden quantum leap for which I shall always be grateful.

But I am digressing as always.
Ratu Manoa has thrown his weight behind the Shark protection campaign of CORAL and Pew. This could not be more timely as there is an urgent need for reaching out and educating the traditional stakeholders, as illustrated in today's editorial in the Fiji Times.

I cannot imagine better local spokesmen for our precious Sharks that the sharkman of Fiji and CORAL with their long track record of successful marine conservation at the grass-roots level.
Vinaka Vakalevu!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Way too busy!

Yet another dazzlingly brilliant pic by MPO!

Between trying to keep track of the exploding Fiji Shark conservation push, hosting David and Michael, lining up a new business venture (watch this space!), wrapping up Mangroves for Fiji (again, watch this space!) and least but certainly not last, diving with large mellow predatory Sharks (!), I'm just too busy for coming up with any in-depth blog posts - undoubtedly much to the relief of some quarters! :)

So whilst I'm running around like a headless chicken, please read David's latest post.
Brilliantly dazzling (or was it the other way round?) - thank you!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

MPO - THAT's how you do it!

The winner - so far!

Fabulous picture - click for detail!
We're currently hosting Michael Patrick O'Neill and this is one of a series of shots (another one here) he has managed to bag today, and this on his first Shark dive! Yes he's been here before and knows what to look for, yes he is a full pro and was thus positioned in my very own choice spot and yes, this is of course highly subjective - but my personal verdict is that this is the clear winner of the 2011 wallpaper contest!

So far
that is.
Michael is here for several more Shark dives and (!) I'm yet to receive the submissions by the saffron pimpernel!
No pressure! :)

Anyway, great dive!
Excellent viz, nice crisp current, heaps of Sharks, and the video could have been simply stellar - were it not for somebody blowing in bubbles from my very own choice spot just a couple of meters up-current!

Busy- click for detail!

Fiji Times on the Guardian of the Sea!

Wallpaper Bulls by MPO - coming up soon!

Bravo Fiji Times!
As far as I know, this is Fiji's largest daily newspaper and it is highly gratifying to see that they have decided to align themselves with Pew and CORAL in publishing a series of articles highlighting the enormous importance Sharks have for the country, this both from an economical and ecological but very much also from a cultural aspect.

This is timely and necessary.
Now that the cat is out of the bag, there will be backlash as witnessed by the disappointing statements from the fishing industry. But I remain optimistic: the arguments in favor of a total ban are absolutely compelling, there already exist smart solutions that greatly reduce bycatch whilst actually benefiting (!) the fishing industry and last but not least, there are going to be provisions that will ensure that the coastal communities will not be deprived of their right to pursue sustainable livelihoods. Plus, there's an awesome team working on this and I am confident that in the end, all parties will agree that protecting our Sharks is in the long term interest of everybody - including the fishing industry!

Very much looking forward to a lively debate! :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Shark Story from Down Under!

What can I say.

Show Reel - nice!

Jonathan has just sent me the link to his latest show reel.
Very nice - and you can discern several Bull Shark sequences from Shark Reef!

Thursday, July 14, 2011


The BAD boyz and the Of Shark and Man crew, fltr: Hugh, Hamish and David!

I must apologize to Kirsty.
I did publicly call her pasty and my only excuse is that I hadn't yet met David!

I mean, check out the picture - shocking!
This is my very best attempt at painting in a modicum of color, after which my trusted Apple has gone into permanent dreaded wheel of death mode. Talk about somebody being dazzlingly brilliant, and this literally - and yes buddy, this is payback (an honored SOPAC tradition) for calling me names on your blog! Man, I got a reputation to defend here!
Never, ever forget who controls the gas mix you inhale!

Anyway, yes, they are here!
The unequaled (!) crew of From the Office to the Ocean - Of Shark and Man have finally landed and we look forward to four weeks of equally dazzlingly brilliant and frantic activity, and stellar conversations! Case in point, today's menu: first Shark dive in the morning, and I'm quite confident that David will want to tell you about it himself. Off to Galoa for inspection of Mangroves plantation, interview with planters and village visit. Then, rush back to the Uprising, interview with Shark divers from Asia, shoot of lovo preparation, cultural show.
Not to shabby for three terminally jetlagged exhausted and dehydrated (and pasty!) British blokes after a 48-odd hour marathon from London to Fiji!

May the fun begin!

More local Media in Fijian!

Fltr: Arthur, Papa and Nani on yesterday's Talk Back show.

Bravo Papa, Nani and Arthur!
I'm being told that yesterday's Talk Back show has been a huge success, that the phone calls never stopped coming and that there will be more programs in Fijian about Sharks in the near future. In fact, today MaiTV have already taped a program with Papa that will be aired in Fijian this Tuesday, July 19 on Misiki at 8pm.

And that's not all.
The team will be answering questions on one more upcoming Talk Back show, this time on BulaFM, and Fiji TV will be featuring Papa in one of their Fijian programs in early August.
I'll be posting details as I get them, hopefully this time well ahead of the fact.

Apparently, the questions have so far revolved about the following.
I'm obviously neither part of Government who will draft the final law, nor am I in any way intimately involved in the process (Government, Pew and CORAL are) so take this with a grain of salt - but I am privy to some of the discussions and can say this much.
  • Will the legislation effect the local subsistence fishermen. The press release mentions that locals can still consume shark meat and my understanding is that this applies to Canacana fishing i.e. personal consumption only. Any commercial fishing and any trading will be banned.

  • What about the enforcement, especially the poaching in the outer islands. The law is targeting the commercial trade and if that trade stops, there will be no more buyers and exporters and the poaching will stop as well.

  • What about the danger of Sharks to the spear fishermen. When you enter the ocean, you enter the realm of the Sharks and if you spear fish, you may indeed attract Sharks. Those Sharks are interested in the speared fish, not you. It is good policy to get any speared fish straight out of the water (into the boat or into a floating bucket) and if a Shark wants your fish, give it to him and leave. Also, if you encounter very large Sharks, it is prudent to leave and try your luck somewhere else - this is their ocean, not yours!
Again, we at BAD are in no way official spokesmen or the like.
It is safe to say that that as the legislation is being drafted, Government and the NGOs will undoubtedly engage in a vigorous awareness campaign and that all questions will be answered to everybody's satisfaction well before the law comes into effect. That's what has always happened in the past and I have no doubt that it will happen in the future.

Please keep watching this space for details of the upcoming programs.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bravo Lill!

Our one&only Viking BAD Girl continues to shine!
The above picture has just won her a silver medal at the 2011 world championships in underwater photography and I must say, although it's not a Shark but one of her usual Blennies, it's still pretty darn awesome!

But that's not why I'm blogging.
She just sent me a message informing me that there is a brand new Shark conservation org in Norway, Hjelp Havets Haier (=Help the Sharks in the Ocean?) - and guess who's on the board as a Rådgiver ie an adviser? May having spent countless hours in the pit helped increase her love and appreciation of Sharks and have contributed to the decision to get active?
Be it as it may, one thing's for sure: you make all of us here proud!
Thank you!

And, there's a video!
Enjoy - and if you live in Norway: join in!
GREAT music BTW!

For ignoramuses of Norwegian like yours truly: English version here!

Urgent - Talk Back Show!

Stellar pic by Daniela - click on it!

For our Fijian readers.

Please participate in the i-Taukei Talk Back show about Sharks, today July 13th from 7 to 8pm on Radio Fiji! It is obviously about this.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Great Job by Jill!

Nice to see more direct outreach by Pew!
This time, it's a great interview with Jill Hepp, manager of the Pew Environment Group’s global shark campaign, garnished with great footage courtesy of Discovery News.

This is excellent pro-Shark media, kudos!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Congo-Brazzaville - Wow!

Great stuff!
Brazzaville - The government of Congo-Brazzaville has banned shark fishing off its Atlantic coast to prevent depletion of stocks caused by massive demand in Asia for shark fins, the government announced Sunday. Cristina must be delighted! Bloody excellent! Correct me if I'm wrong - but this would be the first African nation to do this? Which of course begs the question, if the small island nations and emerging market economies can do this, what about the rich, "enlightened" nations that are so long on telling others what to do and so short on doing the right thing themselves? Europe? Australia and New Zealand? And what about South Africa with its legacy of excellent terrestrial wildlife stewardship and its thriving Shark tourism business?

Friday, July 08, 2011

Southern Bluefin - Critically Endangered?

Oh for crying out loud!!!
This has come as a complete surprise, at least to me!

Did you know?
Turns out that the Southern Bluefin of Tuna Cowboys fame is in even worse shape than his Northern relative! Which once again begs the question, what were those inept monkeys in Doha DOING - campaigning for the wrong species???
Those people should have known about the issue since at least 2005!

Quite frankly, I'm totally shocked.
Gotta do some digging and try and wrap my head around this utter and total conservation debacle.
More as a clearer picture emerges.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

More Grim News!

Pic: Kina Scollay

Remember Grim the Kiwi tourist?

Now, more details are starting to emerge.
New Zealand's 3News have aired a stellar piece on Clinton Duffy's GW research including a first glimpse at the tracks - and I notice that Grim (4:20 ff in blue) has navigated tantalizingly close to the SRMR! Alas, the embedding feature has not been enabled - but you can watch the program online right here.

Very much looking forward to the published results!
Keep watching this space!

Hat tip: Patric!

PS more details here.

Shy-Bold Continuum?

She's smart, she's pretty and she's here!
And yes, having just landed upon our shores, she's way too pasty as well - but we're working on that! :)

Meet Kirsty Richards, Juerg's newest protégée.
She's here to work with our smaller Sharks as part of her master thesis and we very much look forward to reading her posts on Juerg's Fiji blog. Focusing on Sharks other than our flagship Bulls is important and long overdue as it will help round up what we know about the dynamics at play within the SRMR. Juerg is continuing to decipher our huge data base and having been shown some excerpts, I know that the latest Bull Shark abundance paper will soon be followed by an analysis of the other Sharks, something that will undoubtedly dovetail very nicely with Kristy's research.

Anyway, very much looking forward to all of this!
As to the exact meaning of the intra- and interspecific variations along the shy-bold continuum: we shall see shall we not! :)

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Bahamas - Fantastic!

Finally protected - unbelievable pic by Jimmy, you simply must click for detail!

In all the joy about Fiji, let's not forget the Bahamas!
I've run of of time for a lengthy post but if you really dunno what I'm talking about, read today's various press releases on the Pew Global Shark Conservation webpage and on the blogroll on the right hand side!

This is fantastic news, incredibly impressive!

Go Fiji Go!!!!

Very happy Bull Shark - great Pic by Sasha!

I must say, I am overjoyed - and that would be an understatement!
Today's media release by Kalpana Prasad of the Fiji Ministry of Information reads as follows.

(Wednesday 06 July 2011, No:1398/MOI)
Fiji reviews fisheries law to protect the 'King of the Seas'

First it was turtles and now the Fijian Government is out to protect sharks.
A new landmark policy to counteract the alarming decline of sharks in Fiji is being drafted by Government.

Department of Fisheries and Forests permanent secretary Commander Viliame Naupoto confirmed that a review of Fiji’s fisheries laws would include a ban on the trade of all shark fin and other products derived from any type of shark that is captured in Fiji waters.

The ban only affects trade and does not stop villagers from consuming shark meat.

Commander Naupoto clarified the proposed ban was being styled upon a ban protecting turtles.
The only variation from the turtle ban is that locals can still consume shark meat.

The policy aligns the fisheries department vision of achieving growth and ensuring food security through sustainable marine resource management as outlined by Pillar 5 of the People’s Charter for Change, Peace and Progress.
The pillar makes clear that the achievement of higher economic growth can be achieved through the agriculture and marine sectors but this must be carried out in a sustainable manner.

“We want to ban all trade of shark products in Fiji, in order to conserve this species,” Commander Naupoto said.
“We are reviewing the fisheries management law and in it we want to incorporate the ban of all shark meat and products in Fiji, especially the trade of shark fins.”

Sharks often termed the ‘king of the seas’ with their position at the top of the marine food chain, play a critical role within these ecosystem by controlling the population of certain marine species.
“If those animals have no predator than their increase can cause an imbalance in the marine ecosystem and can affect the middle of the food chain, which is where we get most of our livelihood from,” he said.

Commander Naupoto said the emerging market in shark tourism had huge potential in Fiji, as an economic exchange earner but also in terms of providing employment to the local communities.
“Due to the emerging new trends in shark tourism in the country, sharks are more valuable to us alive than dead,” he said.

Beqa Adventure Divers director and shark conservationist Mike Neumann highlighted that Beqa Adventure Divers generated about $3million in direct and indirect revenue that were all invested in Fiji.
“It has been shown that divers will prefer and pay a premium for destinations where they are likely to encounter Sharks.” Mr Neumann said.

“Every single tourist coming to Fiji, does so because of Fiji’s pristine marine environment, if Fiji’s oceans die, the tourists will go somewhere else where the sea is not depleted.
“They have a choice – we do not, we will end up losing an industry that contributes to 55 per cent of Fiji’s GDP. Conversely, if Fiji protects Sharks, it will over time have a huge competitive advantage over other island states that do not.”

Neumann said globally all sharks were endangered because they mature late in life and have only few offspring, meaning that trying to restore depleted shark populations is practically impossible as it would take decades, even centuries for slow growing species.
“This legislation will be hailed worldwide and contribute substantially to enhancing the positive impression of the Government of the day,” he added.

Results of the review of the fisheries law will be submitted to Cabinet.
“Our paper should go to Cabinet with the intention of protecting sharks, we have circulated the paper once and it is in to its second circulation,” said Commander Naupoto.
“In the interests of the sustainable management of marine resources he hopes reviews to the fisheries laws will be approved by year end.”

Fiji will be the first Melanesian country to approve such a law.


How GREAT is that!!!
It has already been reported by the FBCL and by today's main news on FijiTV, and will very likely be featured in all of the Nation's newspapers tomorrow.
For our Fijian readers:
tomorrow Thursday July 7 please tune into Fiji Gold's Talk Back program at 11am and tell them about your support for this visionary legislation! Internet users can listen in by going to the FBCL website, putting the cursor over the Fiji Gold icon and then clicking on Listen Live.

Our involvement?
Before you start thinking that I may be hinting that yours truly, or BAD may have played some pivotal role in achieving this: no we have not.
But after so many years of successful cooperation with Government and having made public statements about the need for Shark protection, I've kinda become the go-to man when it comes to proffering pro-Shark sound bites, and I was thus asked to say something.

Having been graciously kept in the loop, I however know who did this.
So before the usual suspects start beating their chests, here are the people that have been working tirelessly to make this happen
  • Very much first and foremost: The Fiji Department of Fisheries, namely our good friend Principal Research Officer Aisake Batibasaga, the Director Commander Naqali and the Permanent Secretary Viliame Naupoto, and their teams. I must say, ever since I've come to Fiji to talk about Sharks, Fisheries have been unbelievably open, supportive and proactive, being in helping create the SRMR and the Shark Corridor, in training our Fish Wardens, in supporting the Fiji Shark Conservation and Awareness Project or more recently, in mediating contacts to planters under our Mangroves for Fiji project (excellent news there, too - keep watching this space!). A big Vinaka Vakalevu and congratulations for showing the way forward in Melanesia!
In brief, this is very much a Fijian initiative.
But, there have been two NGOs who have extended their assistance.
  • Surprise surprise, the simply unrivaled Pew Environment Group's global shark campaign, namely Matt, Jill, Liz and Angelo and probably more members of their team. It's not for me to divulge details of their involvement but I can say that it has been invaluable and will continue to remain so as the legislation is being drafted and then implemented.

  • CORAL The Coral Reef Alliance under the leadership of Rick MacPherson and locally, under the management of our friend Heidi Williams and of several members of her team. CORAL is notorious for getting things done and this project is certainly no exception. Well done!
As always, this is not a done deal quite yet.
The law needs to be approved by Cabinet, drafted and gazetted and then comes the hard part, i.e. the Capacity Building, the Enforcement and at the same time, the Outreach. And there will undoubtedly be backlash, as there always is.

But I am highly optimistic.
I was extremely grateful to read this statement of support by a prominent Tuna fisheries executive. Fiji's Tuna industry is currently being assessed for MSC certification and this statement is certainly an indication of its commitment to sustainability. Well done Russell!
The bycatch argument is of course valid - but there are cheap and nifty solutions that actually result in a win-win for everybody, and my hope is that the legislation will include a provision that caught Sharks must be discarded whether alive or dead, this to avoid creating a convenient loophole.

Anyway, this is a great day for Fiji's Sharks!