Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Sharks of South Africa - Rochat Test

Old Wolfgang Leander, the wizened sage of the shark diving community, is at it again.

This time he's highlighting Leslie Rochats lament about the lack of funding for sharks in South Africa, and what looks like the wholesale and unchecked slaughter of the top charismatic megafauna in the region.

Her post is titled Wanted Dead or Alive.

The issue at hand is funding for NGO's and a critical nexus that is coming down the pike faster than anyone in the conservation community will admit, or as I fear, even recognizes.

I have long said that shark conservationists are all "glorious beggars," using whatever minuscule funds they have to effect real and lasting conservation changes in a world dominated by well heeled for profit entities who, with a stroke of the pen, can send paid lobbyists to enforce their will with local and regional governments.

At hand are series of stunning announcements by nine governments to create large scale Shark Sanctuaries within their territorial boundaries. While shark conservation groups cry "victory for the sharks!," the bigger question looms, who will enforce and pay for all of this?

More to the point, where will the millions of dollars come from?

This is the next evolution for shark conservation.

Getting politicians to make grand pronouncements is a time honored game, getting them or their political successors to spend capitol treasure on these big projects is another game altogether and one that is played with hard won cash.

Leslie has highlighted the coming need for funds, and lots of them. In the next two to three years if all of the newly created Shark Sanctuaries are to be real havens for sharks and not just CINO's (Conservation in Name Only) where international shark fin vessels wait just outside territorial limits to harvest sharks thought to be protected - we will need to bankroll.

This is also one of shark conservations worst suits.

Conservation in general has always suffered from funding gaps or dependence on large endowments. It's a circular shooting gallery called the "funding season," where Directors of NGO's, some driving high end sports cars, run from one large fund to another seeking help for projects.

We can do better, and it is high time we started generating funds not seeking funds to help with the many millions of square miles of protected shark waters that now need park teams, vessels, and enforcement.

For once I do not have any viable solutions that anyone wants to hear about, that is until all the other solutions are played out. But let's start the process now shifting from Facebook petitions, to money solutions.

The game is in play, the clock is ticking...thanks to Leslie for pointing out we're already past the half-time mark on this one. Kudos.

Patric Douglas CEO

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