Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Is the Tide turning?

Pro-Shark advocacy in Asia - good enough?

Check this out!

Great Job!
Good factual information, no hyperbole and especially, no mention of the dreaded phytoplankton - plus, good comments re finning vs fishing bans! And, I even discern the logo of our friends of Matava who must have done something right! :)

Quick comment.
Fiji has issued a statement of intent but is not a Sanctuary quite yet - like I fear Raja Ampat where the MPA is being advocated but not quite yet legislated. Correct?

But overall, yes, progress so far has been fabulous!
Which begs the question, where do we go from here?

Activism in Asia?

I must say, I'm quite impressed.
We host many Asian divers and although those people are certainly not mainstream insofar as they all love the ocean and probably even Sharks, it is good to hear first hand about the notable developments in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. These changes are most certainly the result of the relentless advocacy by grassroots activist organisations like the HK Shark Foundation that have achieved much with little financial means but with a lot of passion and also inventiveness to compensate for it.

Will it be enough to ultimately save Sharks?
I frankly remain skeptical for the usual reasons. I fear that the bulk of the consumers does not hail from the educated elite and that hundreds of millions of potential consumers in the hinterlands, in mainland China, Taiwan and Japan are either not being reached or will not be swayed and will thus continue to drive the demand and thus the business of killing Sharks. The track record of trying to save animals by educating the Asian consumers sure sucks as witnessed by the latest appalling news for Rhinos from Vietnam and Africa.

But who am I to say.
There is always hope, and I'm also hearing about other strategies which I'm not at liberty to disclose but where chances for making a real impact appear higher. As long as these grassroots initiatives are local and thus locally credible, and as long as they don't detract from what I consider to be the principal job, ie to protect the Sharks where they are being fished, I cannot but applaud!

Fin Bans?

Apparently, this is the next big thing.
Pioneered by Stefanie and Senator Hee in Hawaii, initiatives aimed at banning the possession of Shark fins are popping up all over the US and its Territories, and Canada. I generally support them - but like Patric, I do question the way this has led to a ground swell of anti Asian statements among the more rabid activists. The leaders of those projects do have a responsibility here and they would be well served to publicly and unequivocally condemn those undertones. After all, we are claiming to be walking the high road here - correct?

And then there's this.
Copy/paste, and this badly, is not good enough I fear. When I speak to the most prominent advocates in this field, the one word that keeps popping up is clusterf8%K: sloppy legislation, ridiculous fines (California: USD 100 - 1,000 - WTF?), total lack of coordination, ego wars.
We can and need to do better!

Note: compare to this brand new post on Shark Defenders!

But the party may well be over..
If the Californian law suit against the ban succeeds, the whole concept risks crumbling like a house of cards or Colliers dreaded domino effect, meaning that once a precedent has been set, other existing bans may be affected as well!

Yes the cultural argument is pure hogwash, this is purely about the money.
But, it is an argument - and do we really know whether the bankrupt State, its Governor and its AG have any wish to invest money, time and passion into mounting a vigorous defense?
I'm sure I'm stating the obvious here: the Shark conservationists must provide for an amicus curiae and if so and after the frothiness of self promotion following the ban: who will take the lead in what promises to be a tedious protracted and costly undertaking and above all, who will fork out the necessary dollars?
Crowdfunding? Show me!

Finning Bans?

Please re-read this.
Those bans are difficult to enforce and increasingly, they do not save Sharks, or certainly not enough of them to make a difference. Also, they are being abused by the authorities in order not to do what really needs doing but is much more politically difficult: to enact the necessary Shark fishing bans.
Which brings me straight over to


That's the way to go.
Whether partial or total, fishing bans do save Sharks.
I was happy to see the partial successes in Europe and in the RFMOs like ICCAT but of course, more needs to be done. I am also very impressed by the successes in Florida and am frankly dismayed at the lack of any according activities in the other coastal states - or am I missing something here?
Yes it's tedious, difficult and requires being willing to compromise - but it saves Sharks and isn't this what we're all aiming for?
Any takers?


Well that's obviously by far my preferred solution.
But... and without wanting to in any way detract from the spectacular successes: so far the going has been relatively easy and may continue to be just that in some additional island countries that are dependent on tourism but above all, where there is no important and thus powerful fishing industry. But the number of those countries is limited and beyond that, there will be significant push-back, meaning that positive results will be less easy to achieve.

Fiji is proving to be the first test case of whether rock solid conservation and economic arguments will ultimately prevail over those interests - and lemme tell 'ya, the jury is still very much out on that one, and this despite of a Fisheries Department that understands and is very much in favor of sustainability and marine conservation!
Fingers crossed!

Marine Protected Areas?

Absolutely - the bigger the better!

Policing, Enforcement and Prosecution?

Once again, please read this.
This where the rubber will hit the road in the long term: it is costly, difficult and frustrating and I fear that it will be an ongoing commitment for a very, very long time indeed as 7 billion people, and counting, will continue to exert relentless pressure on global resources and ecosystems.
Yes there's a glimmer of hope and good people are looking for solutions - or I wouldn't be doing this, the more as I'm not personally invested in the future.

But let there be no doubt that it's gonna be hard so let us all develop some over-arching game plan - or we will be running like headless chickens from one flash point to the other without ever tackling the underlying problems!


Shark Free Marinas anybody????

That was two years ago and really, nothing has changed.
Seriously, how pathetic is that! Where are all those thousands upon thousands of advocates and sharktivists that populate all those pages? Having done it many a time: this is easy, all you have to do is walk to one of the marinas around where you live and start talking! Anybody can do it and for the marinas, it's free, it's easy and confers brownie points - and it does save Sharks!
Not a single listing for Oz and NZ - are you kidding me???

Just my 2¢ as always - do with it whatever you want!

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