Friday, April 17, 2009

Hawaii Shark Diving Under Siege?

The most serious challenge to US based commercial shark diving since the Farallones final shark diving policy last month is now unfolding in Hawaii. An angry crowd gathered this week to shut down a commercial cage diving effort on the island of Oahu - opening a renewed and heated conversation about shutting down existing operations as well.

We have said it before and we'll say it again, commercial shark diving efforts must be guided by conservation efforts with a strong political game plan in the matrix. This recent commercial efforts failure was at the hands of poorly guided media output and a complete lack of local outreach and education efforts.

You fail to properly roll out a commercial shark diving company at your own peril.

Just how the owner of this new company ever manged to find himself in a room full of angry locals with the major media on site is a testament to poor planning and execution. Unfortunately the rusted can of anti-shark diving sentiment opened by this effort is effecting all operations in the region. We'll be following this closely:

Like blood in the water an angry crowd of about 200 people converged on a town hall meeting about shark tours.

The shark tour owner told them the business is done. Koko Marina already pulled his boat slip because of the controversy. At issue is the proposed shark tours and feeding them to bring them closer to spectators in cages. Iolani Lewis is the man with the plan. Its tough to say what's more intimidating, swimming with the sharks or facing a crowded cafeteria full of people looking to run him out of town.

"You have immense nerve coming in here telling us how to enjoy the ocean," scolded one unidentified man to Lewis.

Complete Story/Video


Anonymous said...

I attended the meeting, and left with a bad taste in my mouth. I know Mr. Lewis personally and have no problem at all saying that he is a "classy" individual. Unfortunately, a few of the people in attendance were not. Watching Mr. Gene Ward make faces as Iolani spoke was a huge show of disrespect. I expect more out of our elected officials then them mocking people behind their back while they are speaking. Furthermore, Mr. Lewis showed that he is willing to stand in front of an "angry" group of people, because he believed in what he was doing. That to me shows his make up, and I am proud to know him. He faced the public and wanted to simply share his thoughts. People wouldn't give him the chance to speak, instead focusing on where he is from, etc... People don't have to agree with each other, but they could at least listen with open ears, instead of shouting their opinions while someone is attempting to answer community concerns. It is called RESPECT! I applaud Mr. Lewis for standing up in the face of adversity and standing behind something he believes in. We as a society need to do a better job of listening instead of racing to judgement. MR. Lewis lives in Hawaii Kai, his kids go to school here, and he works in the bay every day. He has a vested interest in the community and ocean conservation. The next guy to come along may not. Simple as that.

In addition, why is it that the 2 companies on the North Shore are allowed to operate? Could it be they contributed to the political funds of the people who "represent" us.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I saw that too, Gene Ward making childish faces when Mr. Lewis spoke. Very "no class" of him to be representing us as a leader in Hawaii State Congress. You would think he would have wised up from almost losing the last Nov's election; the election results should have told him he had lost a lot of voters to his comptetion who had no experience with Hawaii and was a unknown person (Amy Monk. Gene may have won that election but she did garner 42-44% of the vote! Look out Gene!

Now back to the main subject: chumming or baiting the ocean waters to fish or bring sharks closer to the cages is an activity that is taking place 3 miles off the Oahu state's shoreline. Dangereous to the swimmers, surfers, paddleboarders, kayakers? I wouldn't think so, 3 miles out is very far for these kinds of activities don't you think? I'm mad at the local fishermen (idiots) who chum and throw bait in the inline waters close to the shoreline! The no chumming law should apply here to these people who claim entitlement to fish the near shore areas! This is what I think is really enticing the sharks to be coming in closer to our shoreline.

Durin the meeting, a local trap fisherman admitted he works the coast line from Maunalua Bay up to Diamond and he stated that he has seen and known for a long time that sharks follow his boat as he moves up and down the shoreline checking his fish traps. Could this one of the causes of attracting the sharks close to our shoreline? Think about it?

There all sorts of abuses in our Maunalua Bay going on and there's not enough enforcement of the laws by DLNR or DOCARE. It's time the politicans woke up and change the budget allocations to give enough funding for this agency to protect our oceans! Otherwise no sense on making the laws to change things because no one listens to them.

If I were Mr. Lewis, I'd follow Federal Laws that will allow chumming and baiting the sharks with the intent of harvesting them.
So the loop hole exists for anyone to still chum for the ocean waters for sharks or anything else (fish?). Just plain and simple, go fishing for sharks outside of Hawaii State waters and you're not breaking any laws by addition a shark cage to protect people who have an interst in watching/observing the sharks in the natural open ocean.

So before we condemn Mr. Lewis for doing a business for taking tourists (or anyone) to see sharks in the wild open 3+ miles out ocean
we should discipline the local self-entitled fishermen for it is this group who I think is the real cause for bringing the sharks in shore.

I'd be happy to see all of this chumming and baiting problems go away by the enforcement that should take place but doesn't. I'd be estastic if the enforcement applied to everyone (including the local fishermen)!

Oahu said...

I agree. Is very dangerous

Shark Diver said...

These are valid "eyes on the room" comments. To hear that a politician is using a shark diving service as a platform is no surprise to us.

Agreeing with an angry crowd of voters is as natural as breathing to them.

The point we're making is operational roll out which in this case was done with a ham fisted determination that lost Lewis this site and perhaps any chance to operate on this island.

Could it have been done better, yes.

In the bigger picture this event also opened a long standing debate about shark diving in Hawaii that left existing operations ill prepared.

Think beyond your operation at any site or on any small island, your actions effect all.

Hawaii remains one of the last bastions in the USA for commercial shark diving, after Florida was banned in 2001 we need these operations in place.

Anonymous said...

They are just out for the money and nothing else. Figure it out, on the North Shore they charge $120.00 a person and they have 3 boats for just one company. They do trips every hour. If they aren't doing it for the money, then why would they need 3 boats running? It is illegal to chum in state and federal waters, so why are they not getting busted! They must be paying someone off.