A few months ago Oceana.org conducted a groundbreaking study into the value of commercial shark diving worldwide ($212 million) and the added value to individual divers. We have been covering the growing policy shift of NGO's toward commercial shark diving as a viable bridge solution towards the protection of sharks.
The question now is, what are the next steps?
This is a question many NGO's are pondering right now, ultimately it will be up to the commercial shark diving industry to provide the solutions. Which, paradoxically, run contrary to the conventional wisdom of an entire industry regarding "competition".
As we posted a few weeks ago our industry has an obligation to show the way here.
The knowledge of shark diving, of cages, dive protocols, marketing and site stewardship, is more often jealously guarded then shared with other operations and the notion of providing "incentives to others" to start commercial shark diving seems completely contrary to owning a successful business. But this is where we must go in order to save sharks and protect what little we have in terms of viable shark sites worldwide.
While the idea seems out of sorts on a first blush, I personally know of no other industry that is loosing it's primary resource at 50-70 million animals a year. This puts an entire eco tourism industry on the front lines making it completely unique. Those that seek sharks for raw product use have done a great job of providing incentives to others to hunt sharks close to extinction in home waters all over the planet. Typically those that kill sharks for fins do this for far less money than one single diver would pay for a week long charter.
It's an interesting thought and one that comes with a shelf life. The longer our commercial shark diving industry clings to it's conventional wisdom about competition, the more animals will be taken never to return. We are loosing this battle but could turn it around if we would open up our knowledge to others and show them how to be successful with sharks on a regional basis.
You do not have to help open a shop next door...but regional efforts benefit everyone.
Patric Douglas CEO