Thursday, October 9, 2014

Shark conservation at it's best!

Great news out of Fiji. "DaShark" has just sent me an email, letting me know that the Shark Reef Marine Reserve Fiji has been officially designated a National Marine Park.

Celebration from Dave emery on Vimeo.

Thanks to all the guys and gals at Beqa Adventure Divers! Because of your tireless efforts, the sharks and all the marine creatures are now officially protected. Also a huge congratulations to all of you, for being named the official management team for this newly created park. They couldn't have picked a better group.

For all of you, that think a project like this is easy to accomplish, consider this. From the very beginning, none of the stake holders was opposing this project, but it still took 11 years to get it done. Remember that the next time you think that someone's efforts are not getting any results. Projects like these get accomplished by people who don't need instant gratification, who don't let set backs discourage them and who have a lot of determination and perseverance. The gang at Beqa Adventure Divers has all that in spades.

"DaShark" writes in his blog,  

Oh boy has this been an adventure!

It is the result of a whopping 11 years of constant advocacy, cajoling all the way to begging: hundreds upon hundreds of e-mails, dozens of formal meetings and position papers, several governments, multiple ministers, five different village chiefs chairing numerous village meetings with ever changing village committees, having to wait for the outcome of the ultimately failed Fiji Shark Sanctuary campaign, and the list goes on and on and on. And mind you: all these years and enormous effort had to be invested into a conservation project that was completely undisputed and where every single stakeholder had given his approval since the very beginning!

This just as an aside and as a warning to those groups that want to quickly parachute in and get fast results and instant gratification - this is not how Fiji works!

This would not have been possible without the help of a lot of people. So in his blog he is thanking them, for their help in getting this reserve created.

We are highly grateful to Government and specifically, to Frank Bainimarama for not only having single-handedly saved our sorry ass back then in 2010, but for getting Cabinet to finally endorse it. And an enormous shout-out goes to Aisake Batibasaga, Principal Research Officer at the Department of Fisheries, for his unwavering support and encouragement all throughout this interminable process. It is thanks to his very personal effort that it got tabled, and for that we shall always be grateful to him.

Vinaka Bati, you're a good man and a good friend!

Our massive thanks also go to the village of Galoa.

Shark Reef lays is within their fishing grounds, and I must really say that contrary to others, working with them has always been easy, and fueled by mutual trust, respect and above all, honesty. To celebrate this event and show our appreciation, we will very shortly increase the marine park levy, with all incremental funds flowing to Galoa only.

Vinaka vakalevu!

And then there's our unmatched team.

Here's to James for having founded BAD and to Andrew for his excellent leadership, loyalty and hard work; to Papa and Nani that have been invaluable guides when navigating the treacherous waters of local protocol; to Rusi, quite possibly the world's best Shark feeder and my dive buddy who continues to inspire me every single day; and to the BAD boyz an gals that always make me so proud.

And then!

Here's to those wonderful people that have been helping us since the very beginning - for a decade of friendship, counsel and encouragement, and above all, for stellar company and shared adventures: Valerie and the late Ron, Juerg, Gary and Brenda, the Hawaii gang of Jack and his disciples John, Rob and Richard and least but not least, Alexander Goldknecht of the Shark Foundation who funded our first patrol boat, continues to fund Juerg' research and is a sponsor of the ongoing GFSC.

And to you, the many loyal friends we've made on the way, and the thousands upon thousands of visitors that have enabled us to keep going and finally achieve our vision of a tourism-based integrated Shark research and conservation project, and reach finally this milestone.

And to our detractors - your have only strengthened our resolve!

Thank you so much!
There is one person I would like to thank for "getting it done".  Thank you "DaShark"! I know you like to stay behind the scenes and are not seeking the public accolades, but in this case, I have to say, Vinaka vakalevu Mike!

There are a lot of people out there, that say that feeding sharks is bad, period. I wonder if any of them have created a national marine park? This is an excellent example of how real conservation works. This park would never have been created without the shark feeding program. It was the catalyst to get all the stake holders on board and would have been impossible without the funds collected from the divers.

Shark Diver is proud to partner with Beqa Adventure Divers for our Fiji Bull Shark adventures next May. If you want to join us, when we visit this newly created national park, call us at 619.887.4275 or email us at

Our 2015 dates are May 8-17, May 15-24 and May 22-31.

Let's go Bull Shark diving!

Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at

1 comment:

DaShark said...

Thanks Martin, much appreciated!