For many years the shadowy figure(s) behind the Cyber Diver News Network has been the face of the anti-shark diving lobby with toxic website quotes like following:
"Sharks are beautiful animals that deserve to be fully protected from all human exploitation including shark finning and shark feeding. While legitimate marine conservation groups and respected scientists do the hard, tedious work to protect endangered shark species, dive industry insiders lobby to prevent full protection of sharks, green-wash the lurative shark feeding industry as "conservation" and "education" and argue that people have the right to die or get hurt while participating in shark feeding dives. "
If our industry in the western hemisphere is to continue, that industry will have to clean house, get a gameplan, and come back from the brink.
Here's the latest rundown of lost dive sites, and shark sites currently on the brink:
1. Farallones, California - 140' rule instituted, divers, vessels, cages must be at this minimum distance at all times from sharks
2. Florida - complete ban on commercial chumming and shark diving 2001
3. Isla Guadalupe, Mexico - complete ban on chumming 2008 (in talks for 2009)
4. Hawaii - strong, organized and government lead banning procedures in process
5. Bahamas - review of Tiger Beach in process
This is no coincidence. What happens at one dive site does transfer to other sites. The litany of operator related mishaps, deaths, cage breaches, and mismanagement has lead to this current "state of the union" - broadcast to the world by an unbalanced CDNN.
But all is not lost...not yet.
Do we let Cyber Diver carry the day? Surely with an industry as motivated enough to make and send petitions, to organise websites devoted to camera gear with thousands of members, to hold industry shows like DEMA and the California Dive Show, surely we can organize and get our industry back to where it once was?
Or is that just a pipe dream?
I don't know about you, but when I read quotes like the one I read today from the CDNN I look around and want to get Shakespearean on someone. We can do better. For the sake of the many sharks we have enjoyed making a living with over the past decade...we have to do better.
Editors Note: Apologies to the folks over at BAD, as far as we're concerned Fiji is not in the western hemisphere thus this Post is not directed at you. Congrats on making the CDNN list by the way. Heady days to be recognised in your own time;)
Patric Douglas CEO