Recently an apparent "Grand Shark Conservation Heist" happened within the shark community, and for the most part it went unnoticed and unchallenged.
It was a theft of intellectual property, the brazen day light robbery of ideas and a two year conservation plan that was not generated by, nor did belong to, those who subsumed it.
Intellectual property is as real as personal property.
In the conservation world intellectual property is the currency of the entire movement. Conservation ideas that are unique, powerful, and visionary are what move others who lack long term vision to conserve sharks.
The shark conservation movement started many years ago with the audacity of "an idea." To get people to look at sharks differently, to conserve a predator, to be engaged with the oceans. Though that kernel of an idea sprang those with other ideas, unique conservation thoughts, vision, and leadership.
Intellectual property is the sole ownership of an idea, concept, and vision. Vision is the key component to intellectual property. Like the first hominid that invented fire, the vision behind that first fire translated into charcoal hardened spear points, the cooking of food, the making of pottery, life as we know it.
This apparent daylight conservation robbery was so brazen, so bold, that the perpetrators did not even bother to change the name of the conservation org. They ignored existing URL's with the same name, they touted this new organization as a unique entity to them, subsumed the entire concept and conservation targets, and enrolled a host of ancillary industry names as legitimate cover for this brazen act.
They even filed for a cloned name trademark after ascertaining that one had not been filed yet by the originators.
To those who had their entire conservation concept stolen, this was an act that defied even rational discussion. Conservation Visigoths had stormed their castle and made off the the crown jewels - intellectual property.
To steal intellectual property is a base act. It has nothing to do with vision, leadership, or conservation, it is an act of theft, pure and simple. What is lacking from this particular theft is vision. Those who generate intellectual property, also generate vision and myriad of possible uses for the idea and concept.
Many within our community who watched this theft from the sidelines commented that it was "unfortunate," or "sad" and then went on to ally themselves with this new stolen org setting an ugly precedent about what is shark conservation and what is not. Many are unaware that this entire concept is the result of two years of careful planning by others.
Do we as a conservation community condone eating our own?
Like jackals descending on a conservation idea, no one in this theft asked the owners of the idea, the owners of the concept and vision, if they could band together and push that vision under the originators banner.
Instead, in backroom discussions with a handful of insiders, a Faustian bargain was made. Steal the idea, call it your own by placing your names on a website as the group leaders, and bring people to this new banner...all in the service of sharks.
Except this was not in the service of sharks. To be in the service of sharks is to look at the conservation world and seek a niche that is yet untapped, an idea yet undiscovered and build on that. Through multiple efforts the conservation movement - becomes an actual movement.
The audacity of many completely original conservation ideas made manifest, is at its heart, conservation.
We had our own unpleasant discovery this these same Conservation Visigoths. Our own shark conservation URL was cloned with a new name, bought without our knowledge, for a use that we can only assume had nothing to do with our completely original conservation effort. It still remains to this day under an "ownership" that went on to completely subsume this other effort.
The funny thing about intellectual property though, it leaves a well defined trail for those who want to look.
To those who have perpetrated one of the most brazen conservation heists of the past decade, rethink what you are doing. To give full and lasting credit to the originator of "your" concept would be the honorable thing to do. To turn over the website and URL's even better.
Real and lasting shark conservation is a brought about by ideas, passion, and execution of those ideas. Not theft, and re purposing for your own use.
You cannot steal the plans to an electric car, build on those plans, and call yourself green.
In the end it will be up to our community to set the standards by which shark conservation efforts are accepted. Many within the community decry the often childish backbiting that goes on between various conservation groups, with the thought of "why can't we all just get along?".
Standards. We need to accept some base level of conduct that is acceptable.
In my humble opinion, it starts with original ideas and those that would support them or callously subsume them without credit or even the knowledge of the originators.
We need to be in the service of sharks first and foremost.
To be in the service of sharks requires being unique, original, and that also requires leadership. Real and lasting leadership is not conferred by taking the hard won intellectual property of others.
Patric Douglas CEO