Monday, April 26, 2010

Whales and Policy - Realism in Tonga

Over at the Beqa Blog Da Shark introduces two expat tourism operators from Tonga.

I spent almost 8 years in the US Virgin Islands so when Da Shark decided to expose small island living in his characteristic and effusive way, he got my undivided if not somewhat nostalgic attention.

Da Shark on Tongan Expat Life:

The local palangi expat community can be safely described as the South Pacific epicenter of, in no particular order, potheads, drunkards and Prozac junkies, new age whackos and neo-hippies, second-rate snake oil peddlers and scamsters, all fatally mired in smallville soap operas and drama and engaging in rabid backstabbing and gossiping and what an Italian friend once called "la guerra dei poveri."

Classic. But the introduction was for two folks who, against all odds, are trying to make a difference to whales by offering first rate whale watching in Tonga while running a dive center as well.

They are also on the forefront of shark related issues in the region and early adopters of the Shark Free Marinas, kudos.

So who are these folks?

My husband Paul Stone and I are the owners of Dive Vava'u in the Kingdom of Tonga, we have been here for 5 years and own a 5 Star resort dive centre. We are also a licenced whale operator, working on eco-tourism based excursions with the South Pacific Humpback Whales.

What really caught my eye was Karen's latest blog post on the IWC and rumors that commercial whaling will come back after a many year hiatus. Complex issues. Instead of dumbing the issue down as many do in the whale conservation world Karen offers the following insights.

Which is where this post was going in the first place. Realism. The conservation world suffers from an appalling lack of it. Doha has brought into laser focus the need to step back and understand how the commercial side of trade works. It works in a vacuum.

We tend to look at commercial trade in shark fin as something to protest about. With few exceptions, like WildAid, the conservation world does not fully understand trade.

We can protest and Whale War all we want, but at the end of the day the conservation world lacks the ability to pick up the phone and call member nations of the IWC to suggest they vote one way or another. That's realism.

If we want to save whales and stop whaling, the conservation world could start building hospitals, airports, and providing roads and infrastructure to the nations who vote with Japan and Norway.

This is the strategy of the whaling nations, and it is devastatingly effective.

Patric Douglas CEO


DaShark said...

Some very astute points there - worth taking up in another post.

Dive Vava'u said...

Thanks very much for the blog post and for adding us to your list of blogs.

There is lots of work needed on many species with sensible sustainable conservation plans.

Again, thanks I have always enjoyed reading your blog.