Wednesday, February 29, 2012

BAD Stuff!

Sorry no rants this week! :)
We're incredibly busy with a shoot and all the other stuff, so there's simply no time for lengthy opinion pieces and especially, for collating all the required documentation.

Anyway, we're being asked about our achievements.
Having put together a short fact sheet, I thought that I might as well share it with you. This has obviously been a team effort, with Andrew and the staff going out and actually doing the work whilst I continue to hide behind the computer desperately trying to become famous by making others look bad, or whatever.
So there.

Beqa Adventure Divers is a dive operator based in Pacific Harbour that specializes in offering encounters with numerous species of Sharks.
Since their inception in 2004, they have been pursuing an agenda of pairing tourism with research, conservation and cooperation with local communities at the grass roots level.
Their various conservation and eco-tourism initiatives are too numerous to enumerate and can be viewed here.

Achievement highlights are
  • 2004 establishment of Shark Reef Marine Reserve, Fiji’s, and quite possibly the world's first MPA dedicated to Shark conservation and Shark research, this in close co-operation with the then Ministry of Fisheries and the qoliqoli owners.
    A user fee goes to the qoliqoli owners, the village of Galoa, in exchange for not fishing there. Marine park levies since disbursed to the village total over FJD 150,000.00. A youth program provides for education and sustainable income by training unemployed youth to become dive professionals. So far, all successful candidates have been subsequently hired by BAD. Fish wardens trained in cooperation with the Department of Fisheries ensure enforcement of the fishing ban.
    Furthermore, BAD pay voluntary reef fees to Wainiyabia village on Viti Levu, Rukua village on Beqa Island and Yanuca village, this in order to have them partake in the benefits from the dive industry.
    We are also sponsoring numerous research projects that have already resulted in a whole list of scientific publications, many of which can be viewed here.

  • 2006 establishment of the Fiji Shark Corridor, a 30 mile no-fishing zone for Sharks on the southern coast of Viti Levu which comprises the complete qoliqoli of Deuba, Wainiyabia and Galoa villages, for which a further levy is since being disbursed.

  • 2006 AON Excellence in Tourism Award, Diving

  • 2009 development and coordination of Fiji Shark Conservation and Awareness Project, Fiji’s contribution to the International Year of the Shark, the only such national event world wide and Fiji’s first national Shark conservation campaign.This project was supported by the vast majority of Fiji’s dive operators, NGOs but also interested Government Departments.
    BAD also produced Fiji’s first Shark conservation PSA

  • 2009/2010 drive for the Shark Free Marinas Initiative together with Matava, where Fiji remains one of the foremost participating countries with 24 adherents.

  • 2010/2011 Mangroves for Fiji.
    This is a world first aiming at offsetting one’s carbon footprint by sponsoring the planting of mangroves, a critical and endangered habitat and an excellent carbon sink.
    As of September, 2011, we are the planet’s first completely carbon neutral dive operator, this after sponsoring the planting of 330,000 mangrove trees. Open to anybody, this is also Fiji’s first and only local carbon offsetting program.
    The program also makes us a major contributor to the Fiji Department of Forestry’s 1,000,000 tree initiative. Currently we are planting more mangroves to offset the carbon footprint of our clients traveling to Fiji, again a world premiere. The project has been conducted in cooperation with numerous local Fijian communities and individuals all across the country that have been paid an aggregate sum of approx FJD 30,000.00 and thus earned a sustainable income on top of being educated in ecological awareness. The list of mangrove planters can be viewed here.

  • 2011 Beqa Island Trips.
    Once again, this initiative focuses on creating sustainable income and ecological awareness at the grassroots level. BAD have sponsored the training of snorkeling guides from the two villages of Naceva and Naiseuseu on Beqa Island and are now conducting regular trips to the island where tourists can conduct guided snorkeling tours in a locally managed MPA, enjoy a meke and lovo and buy local handicrafts. This is providing for sustainable income for two villages where previously there has been none.

  • 2012 initiated The Great Fiji Shark Count.
    This is the first national Shark count anywhere in the world and it unites the tourism industry, Government and various NGOs. The purpose is to create a recurring tourism attraction but more importantly, to start long-term monitoring of Fiji’s Shark, Ray and Turtle populations in order to collect long-term data and thus facilitate the optimal management of these precious resources. The first count will happen this April, followed by November and after that, twice yearly in the following years.

  • 2012 Kutoa Community Impact Award for Best in Green Economic Development

  • 2012 AON Excellence in Tourism Award, Sustainable Tourism
BAD only employs Fijian nationals and earns and re-invests all its cash flow in Fiji.
Our contribution to Fiji’s economy in 2010 has been approx FJD 1m in direct and an estimated FJD 3m in indirect revenues from the ancillary tourism businesses like airlines, accommodation, restaurants, tours, souvenirs, etc., and we expect to reach similar results in 2011.

We have been mentioned in countless print and video media by the most prestigious quarters and have helped put Fiji’s eco-tourism and Shark diving, an important niche product, on the global map.
Our shark diving blog enjoys global recognition.

There you have it!


The Sharkman said...

A Track Record Second To None.

And All this with being BAD!

Ila France Porcher said...

All excellent initiatives. You are an inspiration for other dive clubs in the South Pacific facing similar conflicts among divers, fishermen, and the government. Good on you for all of your good work!

DaShark said...

Thank you Ila.

So far, we are lucky as everybody here is aware of the absolute necessity to preserve the ecological integrity of the islands, be it only to continue welcoming the many tourists that are the backbone of the local economy.

But as populations grow and the shark fishing industry continues to strip mine the South Pacific, the pressure is certainly mounting even here.

Fingers crossed that government will ultimately agree that sustainability is in the interest of everybody - even the fishermen!