Like a tuna's ability to attract sharks in waters seemingly devoid of them, a politician will also be attracted to "an issue" just as quickly. Rep Gene Ward of Hawaii has chosen his next big platform to be commercial shark diving and has opened his candidacy as the lead spokesman against the entire industry with an Op-Ed this week. His folksy approach to the industry is peppered with themes and sentiments taken from 1976.
Posing a series of innocent questions couched in a framework of "raw meat and fear" Mr.Ward has masterfully pushed the agenda forward and set the table for existing shark diving closures in Hawaii.
Rep Gene Ward is not the problem but a symptom of how our industry fails itself. Mr.Wards newly discovered public anti-shark diving persona was spawned at the sight of 300 angry residents, protesting a simply ludicrous commercial shark diving roll out in Hawaii Kai. The arrogance and outright stupidity of that single effort is the reason Mr.Ward has chosen to make the banning of all shark diving operations his "new cause".
As we have said before and to whoever will listen - commercial shark diving is under siege. As an industry in the western hemisphere there is not one well known commercial site that is currently not under new rules or under review by politicians and agencies.
This is the face of the anti-shark diving lobby - they are well spoken, well networked, and agenda driven. When will our industry get it's collective head out of it's ass and start working on solutions?