Monday, February 28, 2011
What we were unaware of was the regional tourism valuation of $50 million. That's an impressive number and one much higher than traditional artisanal fisheries which breakdown a whale shark into a few dollars locally compounded with declining stocks.
PRAIA DO TOFO — Eyes stinging with the wonder of it, my head breaks the surface and a rippling swell sloshes about my ears. Up here all is hysteria, hyper-adrenalized euphoria: 16 goggle-eyed tourists treading water, yelling astonishment through surf and snorkels. Bubble, splash, gurgle . . . “ . . . mazing’’ . . . “ . . . did you see?’’ It’s an understandable reaction when you have just been for a paddle alongside a shark the length of a bus.
In recent years, their docility has spawned a mini-industry of companies offering people the chance to swim with one, a niche tourism market worth more than $50 million a year. Many specialists claim that interactions between whale sharks and humans, when carefully managed, have little negative impact on the animals’ behavior, with some advocating responsible tourism as a key means to safeguard them down the line.
The tuna fishery in the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) has undergone continuous expansion over the past 30 years, with the catch of skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye and albacore tunas reaching 2.4 million tonnes in 2007. The landed value of the catch in 2007 was approximately USD 4 billion, with considerable economic benefits accruing to Pacific Island Countries and Territories through direct participation in the fishery, employment, onshore processing, provision of fleet services and support, and foreign access licence fees.
With the increases in catch that have occurred, tuna resources in the WCPO are coming under increasing pressure. Skipjack tuna, which makes up 75% of the total catch and is responsible for nearly half the catch value, is currently in healthy condition, although exploitation rates continue to increase and may reach sustainable limits within the next decade. On the other hand, catches of yellowfin and bigeye tuna are estimated to be close to, or possibly exceed, their sustainable limits. Albacore tuna in the South Pacific is currently exploited within sustainable limits, but overfishing is believed to be occurring in the North Pacific.
In addition to the pressure from fisheries, the physical and biological oceanic environment is known to profoundly affect the distribution, abundance and catchability of tuna stocks. The effects of El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO) variability in particular have been well documented, with El Niño events tending to result in eastwards displacement of tuna resources and fishing activity, higher catchability by purse seine fisheries through shoaling of the thermocline, positive effects on recruitment for skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye tunas and negative recruitment effects for albacore.
As models linking tuna stocks with biological and physical oceanography have been developed and enhanced over the past ten years, we are now able to see the effects of large-scale changes in ocean climate at the decadal and longer time scales. To date, these studies have mainly been hindcasts that reconstruct the historical responses of tuna stocks to such variability. However, recent advances in the modelling of atmospheric and oceanographic processes associated with climate change have opened the possibility of explicitly modelling the responses of tuna stocks to specific climate change scenarios.
Friday, February 25, 2011
In fact almost every single conservation effort on the world scene, from pandas to sharks, can be looked at through a lens of overpopulation.
Does the world conservation scene need to widen their conservation lens to look at the bigger picture, or like the little Dutch Boy, is conservation happy to keep a finger in failing dike?
The RTSea Blog waded into this issue today with it's usual calm demeanor and brings up some great points:
The 800-pound gorilla in the room is getting restless again. I've used that metaphor in the past to describe the growing human population that is driving so much of our consume-not conserve behavior. At the recent annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the issue of population growth, and what toll that will take on our natural resources, was raised again by Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund.
Complete post here.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
An important requirement for the proper management and conservation of any shark species is a robust understanding of its migratory patterns, how it uses its environment, and identification of what is termed its “critical habitat” – areas that are key to successful reproduction and feeding. To understand tiger shark movements and aid in conservation efforts, the GHRI/GHOF in collaboration with the Bermuda Shark Project and with financial support from AFTCO is investigating tiger shark movements in the western North Atlantic in a long-term study. The sharks’ movements are being studied by employing satellite tags that relay information on where the tiger shark is and/or its depth in the ocean.
Kudos to the entire Guy Harvey team and the good folks at the Bermuda Shark Project for helping us all learn more about these magnificent animals.
Study results so far.
Guam Organization of Saltwater Anglers (GOSA) President Tom Camacho says the fishing community is backing Bill 44 because the amended measure allows restaurants in possession of imported shark fins to deplete their stock in 180 days, as well as give local law enforcement the ability to enforce the federal statute on shark finning and ray parts. It also would require the Department of Agriculture to involve the community and report to the legislature every three years on the issue. Camacho says the problem with the original measure was that it implied the local fishing community practiced shark finning.
“It's kind of disheartening that to elude to the fact that it happens on Guam is really a false statement” said Camacho. “So what we wanted to do is mention that it's an international problem and that we support the prohibition, the practice of shark finning. In addition to that, there are existing federal laws and rules out there that also control how things are done in the open seas. We wanted to make sure that the bill kind of mirrors what the federal government is saying that is and is not allowed.”
Camacho mentions the intent of the bill now protects Guam's unique traditions and culture. The alternate version of the shark finning bill also addresses the dangerous practice of shark feeding. Camacho adds this act alters the shark's behavior and poses a threat to human life.
As it turns out this is not the only sub about to hit the marketplace and today were introduced to this bad boy, The Neptune Sport Micro.
All we have to say about this sub is - "Dang."
You do not get much better than this. Capable of depth to 600 feet and speeds of 6 knots, including barrel rolls and other tricks, the Neptune Sport Micro should be hitting store shelves sometime in 2012...and we want one.
Minus the gas tipped rocket propelled kill spears on the front, unless you're going after Jaguar Sharks and then it's o.k.
Elasmobranch (sharks, skates and rays) landings in recent years have increased significantly, mainly the result of greater interest and valorization of some products such as fins in the Asian markets, but also due to the by-catch in many fisheries around the world targeting other species. Yet, not much is known about most of these elasmobranch species biology, and many populations may be currently facing serious threats/declines.
Oceanic pelagic sharks pose a particular difficult problem when it comes to fisheries management and conservation, as they migrate between territorial waters of different countries and international waters, between continents and hemispheres. On the other hand, these sharks are regularly caught by different fishing gears and during different fisheries in a more or less targeted way.
Not only these species are extremely vulnerable to fisheries, but they are also very poorly known, and it is therefore urgent to carry out more biological research to allow for enlightened fishery management and conservation. Such better and improved data has been requested by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the international management body of these species in the Atlantic Ocean.
Pelagic sharks are commonly caught as by-catch in the tuna and swordfish longline fishery that takes place along the Atlantic Ocean. Those pelagic sharks are highly migratory. An integrated inter-continental and inter-hemispheric approach is needed for their efficient study, management and conservation.
To study the biology, population dynamics, population genetics, movement patterns and habitat use of pelagic sharks in the Atlantic Ocean.
The current focus of this research initiative has been on the pelagic species that are impacted by long-line fisheries, and include:
- Blue shark, Prionace glauca
- Mako shark, Isurus oxyrhynchus
- Bigeye thresher, Alopias superciliosus
- Smooth hammerhead, Sphyrna zygaena
- Oceanic whitetip shark, Carcharhinus longimanus
- Crocodile shark, Pseudocarcharias kamoharai
The data is being collected by fishery dependent sampling by fishery observers on board commercial long-line vessels.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
It's built by South Korean company, which plans to sell fleets of these Ego Semi-Submarines to resorts, and single units to individuals and yacht owners.
The company offers to build custom moorings for the craft, as well as hoists for yachts.
Who needs a shark cage anymore?
If you wanted the closest and driest encounter with a white shark that you could possibly get this would be it...and our company logo would look great on the side as well.
Now, where's that South Korean phone book?
One of the joys about this blog is that we get to front run issues that are obvious to all - but spoken by few.
We were not alone, as Congressmen John Tierney, Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrats, and Walter Jones of North Carolina, all called for Lubchenco's ouster in that same year.
It did not happen.
This week others are calling for the head on a plate of NOAA's leader over an apparent "shredding scandal" of sensitive fisheries documents. According to Lubchenco's office shredding documents is not widespread within NOAA, and this was a one time anomaly.
The bottom line is this and we said it back in August, "Life is defined by moments of crises when people in positions of power are called upon to act beyond their constraints, rise above them, and lead."
Jane Lubchenco is incapable of leadership. She aptly demonstrated that during America's worst oil crises by towing the BP party line time and again, much to the shock and consternation of those who have been following her disaster of a career at NOAA.
So, once again, we are suggesting that Jane Lubchenco , "Pack her Disney lunch box with the picture of Ariel on it and begone from Washington, begone from ocean policy, and begone from any position that requires her to be in leadership."
More on the shredding scandal.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
It's one of the many reasons we feature these guys on our blog roll, the other reason is that we're just not all that good at finding stunning videos like this one.
If you have 15 minutes today, sit back and say ahhh. Here's to "Lost Things," may we all never lose sight of them:
The shark tourism numbers are eloquent, in places like the Maldives sharks are worth $6.00 to local fishermen, where a live shark at a tourism site might be worth $30,000 over the lifetime of the site, and that's just one shark.
In the Bahamas a $78 million dollar shark tourism industry safely introduces thousands of divers to the world of sharks each and every year.
So, reading the recent discussions on the senate floor about a proposed shark fin ban in Guam yesterday is a bit dis concerning as it would appear that at least two Senators are seeking a complete ban on shark chumming as well.
A complete ban on shark chumming would preclude the second act for regional shark conservation efforts allowing fishermen to capitalise on a growing international shark tourism marketplace.
During floor discussions, Sen. Respicio proposed an amendment that would also prohibit the practice of shark feeding, which has been used to lure the animals.
Cruz said he supported the amendment.
"The intent of this bill was to allow nature to be nature," said Cruz.
He said that bringing sharks closer to shore was "unnatural" and dangerous.
Sen. Chris Duenas also rose in support of the amendment.
"It is the experience of many fishermen as they go fishing is that there are a lot of sharks," said Duenas. "But there's no question that when you add fish parts to the water … you would artificial attract sharks to a location, fishermen have a hard enough time off there fending off sharks."
Sen. Judith Guthertz called the practice of attracting the animals through fish parts "very dangerous." She said the bill wanted to prevent dangerous commercial activities that would attract the animals to cages.
"It's inappropriate and unfair to the animals," she said.
Sen. Ben Pangelinan said the practice throws the ecosystem off balance.
"You can train a dog to wear a skirt and sit up and bark. Or pants for that matter," said Pangelinan.
He said that the practice has meant that sharks have been conditioned to follow the sounds of boats -- because the animals know that the sound may mean food.
Guy Harvey is a unique blend of artist, scientist, diver, angler, conservationist and explorer, fiercely devoted to his family and his love of the sea. Growing up in Jamaica, Guy spent many hours fishing and diving with his father along the Island's south coast. He was obsessed with the creatures of the sea and began drawing pictures of the many different fish he observed. Guy captures marine wildlife animals in their natural environment with extraordinary detail and brilliant colors.
Harvey has traveled the globe to observe marine live and is passionate about its conversation. The BNT are thrilled that he has agreed to speak and support the Shark Conservation Campaign and hope that many of you will join in for what promises to be an exciting evening.
For the past two years, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University have been sponsoring and conducting an ongoing project to tag and track tiger sharks in the western Atlantic. The goal of this long-term study is to gain a better understanding of the migration of the tiger sharks in this region and to use that data to aid conservation efforts. Dr. Harvey will be speaking on the tagging and tracking process that has now been expanded to the Bahamas in an area known as Tiger Beach In Grand Bahama.
Space is limited to 300 persons for this event, therefore all members please RSVP by February 28th if they want to have a seat. Call 393-1317 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, February 21, 2011
This is just flat out good stuff.
As we have been blogging about for the past two years at least one species, the Great White, is under threat from regional long line and gill net fishermen.
Back to the paper:
Artisanal fisheries account for up to 80% of elasmobranch fishing activity in Mexican waters, yet details associated with fishing effort and species composition are generally unavailable. This paper describes a survey of the artisanal elasmobranch fishery of the Pacific coast of Baja California, Mexico from 2006 to 2008. The objectives were to determine the geographic extent, size, and targets of the artisanal fishery, and to describe the catch characteristics at Laguna Manuela, an artisanal camp where elasmobranchs are the primary target. For the latter, we used a combination of beach surveys and a novel survey method involving the identification of discarded carcasses. Forty-four artisanal fishing camps were identified, of which 29 (66%) targeted elasmobranchs at least seasonally, using primarily bottom-set gillnets and longlines. At Laguna Manuela 25 species of elasmobranchs were documented. Gillnetting accounted for 60% of fishing effort, and the most commonly captured species were Rhinobatos productus, Zapteryx exasperata, and Myliobatis californica. Longline fishing accounted for 31% of fishing effort, and the most commonly captured species were Prionace glauca and Isurus oxyrhinchus. Catch was composed of mainly juveniles for many species, indicating that the immediately surrounding area (Bahia Sebastian Vizcaino) may be an important elasmobranch nursery habitat. The results of this study will serve as a baseline for determining future changes in the artisanal fishery, as well as changes in species demography and abundance.
Daniel Cartamila, Omar Santana-Morales, Miguel Escobedo-Olvera, Dovi Kacev, Leonardo Castillo-Geniz, Jeffrey B. Graham, Robert D. Rubin and Oscar Sosa-Nishizaki
It would appear that this is a diver hand feeding a Whale shark (Rhincodon typus), or maybe not as we always assumed to hand feed a Whale shark you would need a pair of tweezers (see diet).
Upon further investigation this might actually be a Whale shark being hand fed "something" as this image was shot in Okinawa, Japan at the site of two (didn't it used to be three?) penned and beat up looking sharks.
The additional images we found show what appear to be net damage from rubbing to the eyes and maxillofacial areas on both animals.
See blog post from 2007.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Fortunately the little Lemon shark survived, unfortunately there's a Hammerhead in the Bahamas with a big welt on his snout:
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Dates: April - August 2008
Website: The Thresher Shark Project
Divers interested in marine/shark science may apply to assist Simon Oliver in conducting fieldwork for a doctoral research project on Pelagic thresher sharks. Since ONLY 2 assistants will be accepted on the project at any given time, this is a unique opportunity for selected individuals to gain hands on training and experience in shark survey methodology, behaviour, biology, ecology and conservation from a specialist. Accepted candidates will also receive training in scientific diving, marine wildlife photography and marine videography, and benefit from the use of professional underwater camera and video systems.
Volunteer research assistants will be based on Malapascua Island and shuttled to Monad Shoal aboard a small dedicated research vessel. Ops will run from 05:00 to 20:00 five days a week and include SCUBA survey, underwater video observation and in situ tagging operations (pending funding). Evenings will involve data review and analysis, training and gear maintenance.
* Visit The Thresher Shark Project for expedition details *
• Dedicated research vessel + crew
• SCUBA amenities (air, weights)
• Diving (*NO decompression, MANDATORY 2 hour surface interval)
• Data analysis facilities (computer, video review)
• Survey amenities (slate, environmental gauges)
• Use of underwater video/still cameras (Amphibico Prowler, Amphibico Evo HD Elite, Aquatica A90)
• Tagging tackle (pending funding)
• Field lab amenities (microscope, dissection kit)
• Return boat transfer Maya - Malapascua
What's NOT included:
• Board (food, drink)
• Visa Extensions
• SCUBA equipment
• SCUBA training
• Airport transfers
COST: (GBP) £250 / per week (5 days diving).
Qualifications: PADI Rescue Diver equivalent or higher, 60 ++ dives logged.
* Successful candidates MUST show proof of comprehensive liability and SCUBA insurance (DAN is accepted) *
Number of Openings: 2 per week
How to Apply: Email CV and references to Alison Beckett (A.J.Beckett@liverpool.ac.uk)
* Applicants will be screened according to their interest levels and diving competency *
Friday, February 18, 2011
Found on You Tube today and noticed that a mere 3,623 souls have been exposed to this first rate documentary on Holbox, Mexico. Feel free to pass this on to friends and family because Kip Evans and crew did a first rate job and you don't see storytelling like this too often:
The waters around Isla Holbox off Mexicos Yucatán Peninsula teem with plankton, a feast for giant whale sharks—10-meter giants that gather by the hundreds from June through September.
These super-sized, but toothless filter feeders are the core of a local tourism industry, but over-development could threaten this delicate balance. Dr. Sylvia Earle narrates.
Kip Evans - Producer and Director of Photography. 2010 Blue Ocean Film Festival non-broadcast winning Film.
As we have long known blogging about the issues matters.
Kudos to all who sent a letter to Sen Yee. His sudden 72 hour reversal in position this week might have been due to your "collective" efforts.
Dear Senator Yee,
California's Shark Fin Battle - "Culture" not on the table?
Being an outspoken South African, I am not too familiar with Californian legislation, nor "PC" and "Political Speak" - as I say what I mean, so your statement confuses me a tad.
Are you against shark finning and its consumption, and will you do everything in your power to stop this Marine Apocalypse, or do you think that its still OK in this day and age to consume non essential "food" with minimal nutritional value just because it is "cultural"?
If cultural is the operative word, then surely if your people can embrace modern technology [which they do with great gusto] why not remove an archaic social status anachronism and help save the planet?
I look forward to following your path.
+ 64  220698361
To achieve the impossible it is precisely the unthinkable that must be thought and victory belongs to those that believe in it the most and believe in it the longest.
With 70-100 million sharks slaughtered each year to satisfy the global demand for shark fin soup, considered an Asian delicacy, the expedition will focus on shark preservation and conservation. The United Nations released a report in the spring of 2010 stating that if the mass harvest of sharks continues, global shark populations will disappear in the next ten to twenty years. It is known that sharks now represent the largest number of threatened marine animals on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species. Furthermore, as an apex predator, sharks play one of the most important roles balancing the delicate ocean ecosystem. Today, over 1 billion people on the planet depend on the oceans as their main source of food and income – if that source disappears, imagine the problems we’ll face.
Tokyo-based PangeaSeed is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and raising international understanding of the plight of sharks. PangeaSeed is the first and only organization in Japan to raise public awareness regarding shark conservation and preservation. “In collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Donsol and The Thresher Shark Research & Conservation Project in Malapascua, our organization will host an international ecological awareness study tour in two parts 26 March -10 April, said Tre’ L. Packard, PangeaSeed managing director. “This pioneering tour is the first of its kind for Japan. With the kind and generous support of our sponsors including Aqua Lung scuba gear, Oxford Suites Makati & renowned global artist Brad Klausen, our group will continue its goal to break down the misconceptions of sharks and help to redirect attention to the urgent environmental needs surrounding our oceans.”
The first leg of the tour will guide a group of international attendees to assist PangeaSeed and WWF Donsol marine biologists with whale shark research and data collection. The data collected will be added to an international database shared by researchers and scientists worldwide. These efforts will help to develop a better understanding of the need to preserve and protect the threatened whale shark. Packard added, “Attendees will have the rare opportunity to be in the water with these magnificent animals and study them in their natural state.” Additionally, attendees will host a number of cultural exchange events at Donsol schools to educate students on their very unique and special responsibility of whale shark conservation, ocean preservation and how it can directly benefit the local population.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
His initial decision to play the race card in this passionate debate cause a small uproar within the community and was a surprising strategy that could have moved a conservation issue about species loss and unsustainable fisheries into a no win culture war.
His decision to change tactics allows this debate to move forward on it's merits, taking "culture" and "racism" off the table, opening the door for a more fruitful conservation outcome.
Sen Leland Yee Email:
I wanted to write to you personally to make sure you understood my full position on the recent proposal to ban shark fin soup in California.
I am extremely concerned about the plight of sharks and the ecological impact to the oceans caused by the depletion of certain species. I am a strong supporter of the 2000 federal law, recently strengthened by President Obama, against shark “finning.” It’s a horrendous and cruel practice.
The seriousness with which I take environmental issues is evidenced by the 100% rating I recently received from Clean Water Action, the California League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club – one of only two Senators in California to receive this distinction.
That’s why, while I oppose a complete ban on shark fin soup, I strongly support efforts to protect endangered sharks and stop the practice of shark finning.
I believe we can both protect sharks and preserve the 1,800-year cultural heritage of shark fin soup through the following actions:
* A complete ban on any importation of shark fin to California that does not comply with the federal law against shark “finning” and a ban on the use of shark fins from endangered species of sharks;
* Adoption by California of the federal prohibition against shark “finning;”
* Imposition of strict penalties for breaking these laws;
* Use of such resources collected through penalties for regulation and education about sharks and ocean ecology
While I do feel that we should find a way to protect a cultural staple, I made a mistake by indiscriminately labeling those who support the ban as “culturally insensitive.” That is neither accurate nor constructive, and I deeply regret offending those who were hurt by my comments.
Those who have labeled my position as one of disregard for the environment and the plight of sharks are making a similar mistake.My commitment is to seek common ground and pass meaningful legislation that protects endangered species and our oceans.
If you wish to share your thoughts, please feel free to email me at Leland@LelandYee.com.
Note: After the initial shock of seeing Sen Yee in front of a steaming bowl of shark fin soup to declare this conservation debate a "culture war", I have to admit I was a bit dismayed at the prospects of a fair and honest conversation in California. I still maintain that the proponents of AB 376 need to remain vigilant about the issue of race and cultural sensitivity as the "culture issue" could spring back to life.
The best advice I have seen on the matter comes from SF Foodie this week:
What Yee and the anti-AB 376 camp demonstrate is that the bill's advocates need to keep their language sharp and culturally sensitive. They also need to keep spokesmen like Assemblyman Paul Fong (the bill's co-sponsor), Slanted Door owner Charles Phan, and Martin Yan (Yan Can Cook) in front of the campaign. A Chinese-born chef like Yan may be able to sway voters that scientists and activists will never reach.
For now it would seem that conservation groups have "dodged a bullet" that was entirely Sen Yee's to chamber, and can now focus on the issues to see AB 376 enacted into law.
Patric Douglas CEO
Japanese and Brazilian businessmen are to cooperate in duplicating Brazilian production of tuna and also improving the quality of the equipment used and the labour force working in the sector, with the aim of transforming Rio Grande do Norte into a tuna hub.
The Brazil/Japan Tuna Project, which the company Atlantic Tuna will participate in, is likely to generate over 2,000 new jobs, directly and indirectly through the operation of 16 Japanese vessels in Brazilian waters.
It is expected that they will produce 8,000 tonnes of tuna annually for BRL 114 million (USD 68 million), which will be marketed in Japan and the United States.
The initiative includes the arrival of Asian crew members on board the tuna vessels and the training of approximately 380 Brazilian employees by the National Industrial Apprenticeship Service (Senai) and the Federation of Industries of Rio Grande do Norte (Fiern), reports Tribuna do Norte.
According to the president of Fiern, Flávio Azevedo, "Natal will be the next area for the largest producers of tuna, the fishing terminal will soon be ready and São Gonçalo Airport will begin operating soon."
The president also explained that Brazilian legislation was loosened in order to develop this project, as Law of 2/3 states that foreign firms wishing to operate in Brazil need to employ at least two thirds of their staff from the local area.
"The Brazilians are unable to operate the most modern tuna vessels, as there are no boats here like the ones in Japan. However, this law has been relaxed now," said Azevedo.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is a popular focal species within the global marine tourism industry. Although this has contributed to increased protection being granted to the species in several countries, tourism itself can be detrimental to the sharks in the absence of appropriate management.
Potential impacts can be mitigated, at least in the short term, by adherence to well-designed interaction guidelines. A burgeoning marine tourism industry based on swimming with whale sharks has developed at Tofo Beach in Mozambique. However, no formal management is currently in place at this site. The behaviour of whale sharks during interactions with boats and swimmers were recorded during 137 commercial snorkelling trips run from Tofo Beach over a 20 month period. Whale sharks were encountered on 87% of trips, which operated year-round.
Boat proximity and shark size were significant predictors of avoidance behaviour. No avoidance responses were recorded at >20 m boat distance. The mean in-water interaction time between sharks and swimmers was 8 min 48 s overall. There was a significant decrease in interaction times during encounters where sharks expressed avoidance behaviours, and also in cases where sharks had expressed boat avoidance behaviour before swimmers entered the water. It is suggested that mean encounter times can be extended through adherence to a basic Code of Conduct for operators and swimmers that enforces minimum distances between the sharks, boats and swimmers.
Using encounter time as a measure of the 'success' of interactions holds promise, as longer encounters appear to be indicative of lower impacts on sharks while also providing higher customer satisfaction for swimmers.
It would appear after 32 years of conservation noise, battles, reality television shows, and more lies and false reports than can be attributed to even the worst media output of a third rate dictatorship, (anyone remember Paul Watson getting shot?) Sea Shepherd has succeeded in pulling off a conservation win.
Japan has announced it will withdraw from whaling this season to "reassess it's operations in the region".
Does this mean and end to whaling? Time will tell.
Does this mean that Sea Shepherd will continue to be the most insufferable, mind numbing, small block conservation bully on the scene?
After 32 years of abject conservation failures from seals to tuna and sharks, Sea Shepherd will undoubtedly come out swinging at the many nay sayers (like us) who find their brand of conservation counter productive and wholly self serving.
But a win is a win, and even if the seals in Canada are still be harvested, now more than ever, (another Paul Watson epic fail) we'll give Sea Shepherd it's due.
After 32 years of trying, they, like that kid in the gym class who never could get a sit up right, deserve a tin star.
By making the argument about the trade itself and the illegal importation of red list species legislation of this kind has a chance to accomplish its goals without perceived or politically motivated food source culture push back.
Tokyo, Japan, 16th February 2011—TRAFFIC Japan today
hosted a seminar entitled “Towards traceability and sustainable use of
marine resources: international trends and activities in Japan”, and in
a TRAFFIC first, the seminar was broadcast live online.
The aim of the seminar was to challenge people to answer the question as
to whether the fish on their dinner table has been caught legally or not.
“Here in Japan, there is growing awareness of the problems caused by IUU
[illegal unreported and unregulated] fishing of salmon, tuna, sharks and
other marines resources, and consumers are increasingly demanding
greater traceability in the source of the fish they eat, to ensure it
comes from legal and sustainable sources,” says Soyo Takahashi,
Fisheries Officer with TRAFFIC Japan.
“This seminar provides an opportunity for those interested in this issue
to hear how the experts are ensuring greater transparency in the
fisheries supply chain.”
Speakers included Mr Melcom Pohl Block, Namibian Ministry of Fisheries
Marine Resources on “Namibia and the challenge of sustainable
fisheries”; Mr Richard Parsons from the UK Government’s Department for
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on “The EU’s IUU fisheries
regulations and enforcement, with particular reference to the UK”; Mr
Nakamura Nobuyuki, Senior Managing Director of an eel retailing company
on “Traceability and eel farming: Production and public certification”;
plus TRAFFIC’s Ms Joyce Wu and Ms Soyo Takahashi and Ms Aiko Yamauchi of
More on TRAFFIC.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
It is a conservation strategy (if one could call it a strategy) that all but kicks in the front door of the Asian American community and penalizes them for eating shark fin soup or so Senator Leland Yee would have you believe.
The campaign began less than one week after the Chinese New Year.
The Asian American community in California is a savvy, politically well connected group, and they now have a new cultural and shark-fin champion, Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) who has taken the side of Chinese Americans and business interests in this fight.
“It seems that there are more and more examples where individuals or groups of individuals are trying to limit our heritage and our culture,” Yee, flanked by supportive restaurateurs and chefs, told reporters this week before evoking memories of racism against Chinese Americans.
Yee then went on to serve up a hot steaming bowl of shark fin soup to reporters and guests (we could not make this up).
I had come to understand that this campaign was to be a "quiet backroom campaign", and even offered strategic campaign advice to first enlist all of the top Asian chefs in America to back the California effort prior to any conservation launch by primarily non Asian anti-shark fin groups.
How we got here is anyone guess, but make no bones about it, Sen Yee is a smart politician who is running for San Francisco Mayor. Thanks to the anti-shark fin groups he has all but locked in the Chinese American vote using race as his wedge issue. Unfortunately.
In a campaign to eliminate a food source from a culture, a modicum of dignity and respect is called for. This frontal assault is bad for conservation, bad for the Asian American community, and most of all has destroyed the message of species loss and decline, replaced by a non Asian vs Asian cultural heritage argument that cannot be won. Sen Yee now owns that argument and has the bowl of shark fin soup to back it up.
A culture battle is one that conservation cannot win, and should it succeed in winning, will not want the unintended blow back when it does. So Yee is playing a tough game.
It is time to rethink the campaign, now, as all eyes are on California and the Asian American community for the outcome. Or as said by SF Foodie more eloquently this week:
What Yee and the anti-AB 376 camp demonstrate is that the bill's advocates need to keep their language sharp and culturally sensitive. They also need to keep spokesmen like Assemblyman Paul Fong (the bill's co-sponsor), Slanted Door owner Charles Phan, and Martin Yan (Yan Can Cook) in front of the campaign. A Chinese-born chef like Yan may be able to sway voters that scientists and activists will never reach.
Why conservation groups did not push for a limit on endangered shark species and mandatory testing of all shark fin is beyond me, but here we are, and as one famous voice from history once said "Alea iacta est".
Patric Douglas CEO
The image, set in Mogadishu, Somalia plays on so many different levels that you need to click on the image and take it in for a while to get the full effect.
With a war torn city as a back drop a man carrying a dead shark was winner of the World Press Photo competition 2010.
Omar Feisal, from Reuters snapped the pic which won the Daily Life Single category.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Gujarat is a well known whale shark harvest site, with local fishermen in small boats who harpoon and net these animals, often reaping rewards of $80,000 rupee or close to $1800 USD per shark. In a location like Gujarat where the regional daily wage hovers at $3.00 the incentive to harvest whale sharks is extremely high.
Yet a small group of local NGO's with the help of India's Tata Chemicals have managed to change local views and redirect fishermen away from harvesting sharks for a promise of shark tourism efforts to come.
Sustainable shark tourism is the key to saving these animals.
Additionally the team rolled out a shark tagging and research effort that now suggests these animals are a distinct population. If you want to save a regional shark population this is the kind of news that drives conservation forward, aided by shark research.
With the titanic shark fishing disaster in Playa del Carmen this year, 22 dead bull sharks and counting, taken by local fishermen who were alerted to a shark aggregation site by local dive shops wanting to capitalize on shark tourism. Gujarat stands as a fine example of slow and steady site roll outs where fishing pressures and the chance to make money from sharks with a one time fishery can be changed and modified.
Worldwide the shark tourism model can be wildly successful, but only if tourism is countered with research and local behavior modification where regional fishing pressures only grow with demand, made more deadly each year by the modern equipment and methods that are driven by demand.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
I have never heard of the place, and the images feature a graphic expose of commercial animal processing.
In the U.S. and Europe animal processing has long since been sanitized behind industrial fortresses that bring whole animals in one end and spit out boxes of product out the other.
Westerners are, simply put, largely divorced from our food chain.
Japan's food processing is still in many ways very Asian, where the public is invited to see or admire freshness, and purity of product. Unlike western values that feature stamped on dates, Asian cultures like to see and be engaged with their food sources. It's how they do food.
It's a cultural difference that Japan is being overwhelmingly attacked for. Their public display of food and food processing exploited by dozens of western based conservation groups.
I am struck by the efforts of so many conservation groups who are rabid in their individual assessment of Japans and China's food chain. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and it's loon fringe being the worst of the lot, having their own reality television show with regular on screen quotes by western "vegans" who alternately decry whale harvests while demonising Japan in the process.
For Japan, reeling from multi-pronged attacks on tuna, sharks, whales, and dolphins, not to mention five or six species of fish, I find myself asking "where does Japan go from here?".
The ugly issues with all of this Japan focus on food, and one not being discussed, is that this entire effort is an overwhelming western effort. These are western faces demanding Japanese people change what they eat.
For any conservation effort to be successful you need the ability to reverse positions and see your conservation opponents view. Right now Japan is under siege by a western generated cacophony of what might be viewed as culinary imperialism. A lot of how Japan harvests food is repugnant to western eyes long since divorced from the blood and gore.
A quick look, and by no means an in depth one, over the last two months of western media hits against Japan reveals a disorganized patchwork of many conservation agendas:
Shark fishing in Japan – a messy, blood-spattered business
New video reveals dolphin hunt just as brutal as ever
Birch Bay resident sets sail to stop dolphin slaughter
Whale wars: Boat claims ram attempt
Food giant Princes accused of selling endangered tuna on the High Street
It's quite a storm of protest and one I fear will just have Japan hunker down and play turtle without getting any concessions to sustainable harvests, which at the end of the day would be a big win.
Without a doubt there are some serious issues with species loss and rampant over harvest of animals - worldwide. But this focus on Asians by westerners, I fear, will ultimately backfire under a counter, and western conservation driven, nationalistic blow back.
How long can westerners keep up their demands on what Asians can and cannot put into their mouths?
How long will the Japanese stand for this growing patchwork of food based conservation agendas and increasingly shrill conservation noise?
How does Japan change, when it seems every week a new food source is identified and a new western conservation group, using in-your-face conservation tactics and media hits gleaned from other groups, goes on the attack?
I am all for conservation, but is not time that individual groups look up from their pet projects in Japan and Asia to take a larger view of how this growing group effort to conserve wildlife is being perceived in Asia?
We all want to see change but this recent trend to "Jump on Japan" does not leave any room for compromise, nor does it allow Japan and Japanese people to assess their own inalienable rights to choose what they consider a food source or not.
Another look at this issue from Da Shark.
Another look with RTSea Blog.
Patric Douglas CEO
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Diver and underwater photographer Stephens, Australia when a sizable Mako blasted past him to seize a striped marlin about to be released during a fishing tournament.
Needles to say the animal was not released for reasons that will quickly become self evident.
Al stayed in the water with the shark and shot an entire series - nicely done sir.
Want to see more?
Yeah we knew you would.
This is raw footage from that expedition:
What looks to be a rare Vampire Squid order Vampyromorphida is normally found at depths in excess of 2000-3000 feet making this specimen worthy of collection. No word if anyone recovered the obviously distressed animal or not:
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Ahh, shark conservation, amazing isn't it?
We all say we love sharks but when push comes to shove, no matter how impressive the reach and media messaging, if the idea didn't come from your little camp, you're not going to push it.
We will, for one reason only - this is first rate work without the hyperbole.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
What.We.Do.Media is the brainchild behind a lot of the imagery, websites and PSA's that have been floating around the industry as of late. We hired their design team to create, build and launch the all new Shark Diver website.
Celebrating a decade in the commercial shark diving industry required a team who knew marketing, the dive world, conservation, and of course, sharks. Try finding that in an online web 2.0 template.
Fortunately for us the diverse team over at What.We.Do.Media knew exactly what we were looking for. In today's marketplace anyone can build a website. But to create a brand, and help launch it takes skill, dedication, and understanding.
Do we endorse the team over at What.We.Do Media?
Damn right we do and we're willing to share our success with you. You need What.We.Do.Media for all your your next web creation, branding and site launch.
So, you want to be in this industry for just a year, or the next twenty years?
Call them today, and start booking divers tomorrow.
A full partner in the effort to educate a global populace and change the perceptions of these magnificent animals.
These efforts are worldwide and have happened in more ways and with more initiatives than you can count.
But today it is time to support our own industry and two commercial shark diving members with direct action and your voice.
For readers of this blog you'll note our two year coverage of the ongoing anti-shark diving disaster in Hawaii. A small group of politico's in Oahu have sought to destroy two well known and safe commercial cage diving operations there. By any means necessary. In terms of anti-industry time and effort one word comes to mind to characterise what's been happening on those islands, "unprecedented".
The anti-shark diving effort has culminated in two shark diving boats being burned and a host of allegations against these two companies that are not based in science fact, but designed to enrage a local and uneducated populace. For the most part these two operators have battled against mounting odds, and today are asking for help from the broader commercial shark diving community.
I have met both operators, and have been on their shark site three miles off the Oahu's coast with cages. These are safe, clean, professional shark diving operations that deserve our industries full support. These are not unseasoned fly by night operations. They represent the Pacific face of the commercial shark diving industry.
If our industry could take one tenth of the effort it mounts on a daily basis to save sharks, to help save these two operations, we would be a better industry for it, because what gets decided in Hawaii can be recreated elsewhere, and not every sovereign nation or state wants or desires commercial shark diving in their waters.
Our industry has proven over the past two decades without a doubt that job creation, conservation efforts, public outreach and education are the intended by products of what we do commercially with sharks - each and every day.
The Bahamas $78 million dollar shark diving success story is but one example.
It is time that industry members circle the wagons and come to the aid of those in Hawaii who would seek to carry on that tradition, in face of a tiny minority who's backwards views and political agendas would seek to destroy the best and the brightest in the region.
One email today can and will make a difference for commercial shark diving worldwide and the folks in Hawaii who need your help. Let's take care of our industry this week, and start by sending in an email of support to:
Please detail in 200 words or less why commercial shark diving should be preserved on Oahu's North Shore. Feel free to cite current industry trends, success stories, personal shark diving anecdotes and or images.
Patric Douglas CEO
Your adrenaline kicks into the red zone as the shark glides past, dead silent, an arm's length from your face. He's Carcharodon carcharias, the great white, and this isn't an aquarium. It's his realm. You're sharing the water with the world's largest predatory fish, protected (this is the good news) from his infamous dental work by a cocoon of welded aluminum bars, floating at the stern of a luxury live-aboard trawler. Welcome to shark-cage diving, a thrilling, increasingly popular breed of adventure vacation.
The excitement begins underwater, as everyone nervously scans the void around and below the cage, searching for the day's first sighting. Suddenly, some eager diver will pound out a bass drum soundtrack on the bars, to announce the approach of a great white, looming up from its cruising depth. The drama is palpable. A shark rises into Windex-blue water near the surface, and muffled cries of "wow" can be heard beneath the noisy bubbling of everyone's breathing regulators. As the shark slows to inspect these strange creatures in their metal enclosure, a rare communion occurs-an intimate close-up glimpse at one of nature's most mythologized wild animals. But this is no kumbaya moment. Keep your hands inside and respect these efficient killers.
Adult great white sharks typically grow to lengths of around 15 feet-plus, and weigh upwards of a ton. They are the ocean's "apex predators," the ultimate expression of a line of marine vertebrates who've lived on this planet for 400 million years. To scientists and shark buffs, the great whites are a feast of complex behaviors: they're coy in their breeding and migration habits; they're surprisingly wary, calculating hunters; and they're probably the most skillful killing machines in nature.
The inshore waters of Guadalupe Island, located 250 miles off Baja
California, are among the few known stopovers for migratory great whites. Patric Douglas, of Shark Diver, the San Diego-based cage-dive operator, believes Guadalupe is "the most robust white shark habitat on earth." It's now a popular venue where tourists in wetsuits and face masks can safely observe this ancient, dangerous life form in its natural lair.
Strictly speaking, shark-cage diving isn't really diving at all. Usually, no scuba certification or even swimming skills are required. In a typical scenario, "divers" are safety-briefed, then descend just beneath the surface, with unlimited air supplied-hookah style-from topside, via scuba mouthpieces and rugged 12-foot hoses. Most cage dive boats spend about three days at the island, (Shark Diver's price for the total five-day expedition is around $3,100), each diver making four to five one-hour "rotations" daily, with periodic rest breaks on deck.
Monday, February 7, 2011
It's nice to see pro-shark media coming from the Bahamas especially when a critical push to make the Bahamas a full fledged Shark Sanctuary is in the works by many of the regional stakeholders including for the first time shark diving operations.
Image by Christy Fisher.
Complete article here.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
For the money we'll say it was another Haxanchus that did this. The bite tearing around the edges looks familiar.
Video Costa Teguise, Lanzarote in the Canary Islands:
Friday, February 4, 2011
We're also back with Scotty Grey and the MV Kate one of the best vessels operating at the beach right now with one of the most accomplished and flexible shark crews out there.
We use Scotty and crew exclusively for all our Bahamas operations, from film crews to commercial diving they deliver safety, value, and comfort.
This season we're only running six divers per trip and this is the key for us. Small families and dive groups enjoy a private charter set up on the 65' MV Kate, and this allows us the ultimate flexibility on site and at other sites as well.
We cannot wait to get wet this March-May, and frankly, like you, we're tired of the winter.
Here's to 80 degree days, sunshine, Tigers, lemons, reef sharks, and oh yeah, we'll even throw in a day swimming with the spotted dolphins, or not, it's your expedition after all.
Image Frazier Nivens