Monday, February 18, 2008

Tiger Sharks-Aliwal Shoal Thomas Peschak

Thomas Peschak, photographer and shark eco friend sent us an update on the Tiger killings at Aliwal Shoal today. Turns out the dead animal count is rising every day, we're now at 8 dead animals.

"Less than 2 weeks after returning from a trip to photograph my favorite tiger sharks at the Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area off South Africa's east coast for a Africa Geographic magazine feature, my friend Mark Addison of Blue Wilderness Dive Expeditions called me with some devastating news.

A few days ago a young fishermen who should know better caught and killed three tiger sharks within the MPA and landed them openly in broad daylight. Tiger sharks are a protected species within the Aliwal MPA as they are the main attraction for thousands of tourists who come from across the world to dive the shoal and see these sharks. One dead tiger shark might fetch a once off payment of no more than $50-100 dollars for the fisherman, but alive that same shark might be worth in excess of $10 000 every year in marine eco-tourism.

Further investigations revealed the sobering news that a further five tiger sharks were killed the week before. Shark diving tourism at Aliwal shoal is one way to sustainably utilize our ocean resources in a non-consumptive manner and in the process create much needed employment for hundreds of people in the tourism and hospitality industry along this section of South Africa's coast. As this recent incident has demonstrated marine law enforcement at the Aliwal Shoal MPA is practically non-existant at present and poachers are able to operate with impunity from arrest or prosecution. If the sharks of Aliwal shoal are to remain a model of non-consumptive utilization of South Africa's marine wildlife heritage then the government, NGO's and tourism operators must combine forces and act quickly to stamp out these reckless, selfish and destructive acts that could destroy one of the world's true last shark paradises in just a matter of months."