Friday, May 8, 2009

Shark Diving Industry - Another Voice

In regards to our industry post today.

Thankfully there's some reasoned support from the guys over at BAD, in Fiji. All controversy aside someone has to stand up and start talking. If the conversation starts with "Patric is an SOB, but he has a point" then so be it. Industry leadership starts with someone taking a stand for what is ultimately right.

You say you love sharks? Start showing the leadership:

I've got to hand it to Patric, he's a brave man!

He just wrote a post that will put him in no end of trouble with many of his peers and probably, with a good part of the principal Shark media as well.

Contrary to us here, he's completely immersed in the Shark Diving Industry and I'm sure that he must have spent quite a few anxious moments pondering what effect this would have on the businesses he operates, Shark Diver and Shark Divers.

I first noticed his Blog when the Groh accident exploded in the media and although my call on the matter was somewhat different, he earned my respect and my admiration for always trying to look beyond the mere daily occurrences, for putting things into perspective and for saying it as it is, without regard for anything and anybody but the plain truth as he sees it.

Once again, he does not disappoint.

Regular readers of this Blog have noticed that we often reference each other and mostly agree about our call on the Industry.

Yes much of what we say may be controversial and we also don't shy away from pointing the finger at what we perceive to be developments, and people that are detrimental to the Industry as a whole and to us as a consequence.

The way I see it, it's part of a robust dialogue in an Industry that will hopefully self-regulate in the same way the Diving Industry has already managed to do. The alternative to that would be having the Authorities slap on a set of regulations - and unfortunately, there are already plenty of examples of how that would look like: the closure of sites and the demise of the operators.

Especially in the USA!

With that in mind, I welcome the upcoming controversy. Patric is of course spot on and 99.99% of the operators know that. But of course there's history, there are likes and dislikes, there's ego and all of that is not conducive to having a dispassionate and constructive dialogue. Yet I know that everybody will silently go over their books and ponder what is being said. Little as that may seem, it's the first step towards reforming the Industry that urgently needs to regroup and re-think the direction in which many have embarked.

This is now the watershed.

On one side, we can progress towards protocols aimed at operating sustainably, profitably and for many many years to come, for the enjoyment of our customers and for the benefit of the animals we love. The other path will lead to our perdition.

It's really that simple.

Please read Patric's post.

Sonja Fordham Wants Your Signature

Sonja Fordham is Ocean Conservancy's Shark Conservation Program Director. We have talked about her in the past and the simply fantastic NGO she represents.

These guys do shark conservation and have our full support.

So, when Sonja puts out a call for a few electronic signatures we're more than happy to help because we know at the end of the day it will. Please join Sonja and her team in making a difference:

I'm Sonja Fordham, Ocean Conservancy's Shark Conservation Program Director, and I'm talking about "finning" the practice of slicing off a shark’s valuable fins for soup and tossing the body back to sea.

If you're like me, the thought of it makes you outraged and eager to end it. Me, I've dedicated almost two decades to conserving sharks. You, I just need you to urge your senators to pass the Shark Conservation Act of 2009 right now.

The bill, which already passed in the House of Representatives last March, is needed to end the practice of shark finning in US waters and to step up shark conservation efforts in other countries. The US passed a national finning ban in 2000, but the practice continues and is still legal in many other nations. The demand for the fins, which can sell for up to hundreds of dollars per pound, remains high for shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy.

The Shark Conservation Act of 2009 closes loopholes in the US finning ban and can revitalize shark conservation efforts on a global scale. It must be passed without further delay.Please join me, and the thousands of other Ocean Conservancy supporters, by sending a powerful message to your senators.

A growing number of shark populations are in peril from overfishing and unsustainable finning — we must do better. Prohibiting the removal of shark fins at sea takes the guesswork out of determining if sharks were finned and greatly improves the ability of experts to accurately record the shark species taken. This bill can end the waste of these vulnerable animals and will contribute to our knowledge of shark population health and conservation needs.

When the passionate support of people like you combines with our policy expertise, we can end harmful fishing practices and turn the tide for sharks. We can end the wasteful practice of shark finning. Working together, we can save our sharks.

Thank you for all that you do to fight for a healthy and diverse ocean,

Sonja Fordham
Shark Conservation Program Director
Ocean Conservancy