Thursday, 29 November 2012

EU to close shark finning loophole -

MEPs vote 566-47 in favour of closing loophole that effectively rendered useless a nine-year-old ban on finning
Fisherman holding knife and dorsal fin from hammerhead shark, close-up
A fisherman holds the dorsal fin of a hammerhead shark. Photograph: Jeff Rotman/Getty Images
The barbaric practice of slicing off the fins of sharks and discarding the live bodies at sea will be outlawed following a historic vote in the European parliament on Thursday. MEPs voted overwhelmingly 566 to 47 to close a legal loophole and ban finning despite opposition from Spain and Portugal.
The EU, which is one of the largest exporters of shark fins to Asia, banned finning in 2003, but in a loophole, companies with freezer vessels applied for "special fishing permits" which allowed them to continue if they landed the fins separately from the bodies. The issuing of these permits has became standard practice, making a mockery of the law.
Tens of millions of sharks are killed every year to meet the demand for shark fin soup, despite the fact that one-third of European shark and ray species and one-third of open-ocean sharks are classified as "threatened" by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. EU companies catch sharks in the Atlantic, Indian, Mediterranean, and Pacific oceans, and are the largest exporter of shark fins to Hong Kong and mainland China where they are used for a gourmet soup.
Conservation campaigners and animal welfare groups welcomed the vote but said that a finning ban alone was insufficient to save sharks. "Parliament's overwhelming support for strengthening the EU finning ban represents a significant victory for shark conservation in the EU and beyond," said Ali Hood, the Shark Trust director of conservation. "Because of the EU's influence at international fisheries bodies, this action holds great promise for combating this wasteful practice on a global scale."
"This is a milestone in the global effort to end the wasteful practice of shark finning," said Sandrine Polti, EU shark policy adviser for the Pew Environment Group.
"Shark finning is not only immoral but it is threatening the very survival of many native European species. It is astonishing to think that one-third of European sharks are classed as under threat – something I hope will now change," said Scottish MEP Alyn Smith, who has campaigned for strengthening the ban for years.
Conservation groups will now strongly lobby the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), which meets in March 2013 to consider proposals from the EU and US to protect commercially valuable, threatened shark species, including porbeagles, hammerheads, and oceanic whitetips.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Manta rays, a species close to the heart of every diver and every individual who cares about the future of our ocean, are increasingly threatened with extinction

Project AWARE

Manta rays, a species close to the heart of every diver and every individual who cares about the future of our ocean, are increasingly threatened with extinction. They have roamed the ocean for 150 million years and yet we are witnessing their ecocide before our eyes.

Demand for manta ray gill rakers – or the internal feathery structures that strain plankton – has risen drastically, driving untold numbers of deaths for the Asian medicine market. The gruesome and cruel destruction of these gentle creatures is needless, tragic and extremely alarming.

As the environmental voice of the global dive community, Project AWARE is working at every turn to ensure that mantas will not disappear on our watch. Help us ensure maximum protection for these animals before it’s too late. The time is now. Make an urgent donation today to support critical conservation efforts to protect mantas globally.

FACT: Manta ray catch has nearly quadrupled in seven years according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

FACTProject AWARE has a track record of success on this critical issue. In 2011, in coordination with our partners and with your support, we succeeded in safeguarding this wide-ranging, globally threatened species and its key habitats under the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). Project AWARE has the global reach and seasoned expertise needed to try to stop this slaughter - but we need your financial support.

FACT: Worldwide value of manta-based tourism and filming is estimated at $100 million USD per year. Manta rays top divers’ must-see list time and again. Divers around the world have of a truly special relationship with marine creatures and  this means we must play a pivotal role in their protection.

Project AWARE is now targeting protection for mantas and their close relatives the devil rays under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – the world’s largest, most effective wildlife conservation agreement. CITES protections offer the best hope for controlling the manta trade globally and ensuring species recovery.

The battle ahead is going to be difficult. But our opposition is underestimating us. Dive supporters span the globe as guardians of the sea from surface to depth. We will not let manta rays die silently and needlessly. Exercise this power, make waves and join together with us in protecting mantas and devil rays today.

Visit the Manta Rays at Risk section of our website for more information on the manta gill raker trade. Thank you for your urgent support!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Fiji Shark Sanctuary Campaign | Coral Reef Alliance

Fiji Shark Sanctuary Campaign | Coral Reef Alliance

CORAL, working in partnership with the Pew Environment Group and the Fijian Ministry of Fisheries, is raising awareness for shark protection in Fiji through an exciting shark conservation campaign.
The campaign's objective is to create a Fijian National Shark Sanctuary that would
  • prohibit the commercial fishing of sharks throughout the entirety of the Fijian exclusive economic zone;
  • prohibit the import and export of shark products in Fiji;
  • prohibit the sale of shark products within Fiji;
  • allow recreational catch and release of sharks; and
  • allow the incidental, artisanal catch of sharks by citizens of Fiji, assuming the subsequent shark or shark products are not sold.

Since February 2011, our team has been working on the ground, alongside the Fijian people, to raise support for shark protection. Because effective conservation requires collaboration, we have been engaging and educating local stakeholders from the
confederacies, provinces, districts, and villages to ensure
long-lasting protection for sharks.

CAMPAIGN POSTERFiji Shark Campaign Poster
While Fiji is home to a high diversity of sharks, many of these species are threatened with extinction globally. Download our shark conservation campaign poster to learn more.
Shark Hope

As part of our community-based conservation efforts in Fiji, CORAL's field staff and shark sanctuary campaign partners worked with a local production company to produce Shark Hope. Told from a uniquely Fijian perspective, the stories and imagery used in this educational film are a reflection of the local community's rich traditions and cultural identity.
Meeting with Ratu Epenisa Cakobau
Meeting with Ratu Epenisa Cakobau, high chief of Bau Village and the Kubuna Confederacy, who has given his support for shark protection
Sharks have long held a place of respect and worship in Fiji, but past efforts to legally protect them from local and international fishing pressures were met with resistance. Thanks in part to the recent wave of shark sanctuary designations around the world, however, this current campaign is gaining momentum.
In July, Fiji's Department of Fisheries and Forests confirmed that it is reviewing Fiji's fisheries laws and is considering revisions that would include a ban on the trade of all shark fins and other products derived from any shark captured in Fijian waters. If the proposal moves forward, we expect the government to issue an official decree before the year's end. The passing of such a law would make Fiji the first Melanesian country to approve such comprehensive protection for these iconic animals.
The successful passing of the decree is only the first step. The second—and perhaps most important step—is making sure the new policy is effectively implemented. We will work with the Fijian people to make sure communities are aware of the law, understand its importance, and proudly support it.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

2012 Great Fiji Shootout - Underwater Photography Seminar and Contest

Underwater Photography Shootout is coming to FIJI!

Hosted by Photo Pro Chris Liles on November 5th-10th photographers will unleash and hone their skills under Fiji’s Coral Coast’s clear warm tropical ocean. YOU can be one of them and previous experience is not required.

Discover what the Great Fiji Shootout is all about.

To book your space on the Great Fiji Shootout contact your dive travel agent or visit the Diveaway Fiji contact page.

2012 Great Fiji Shootout - Underwater Photography Seminar and Contest:

Friday, 8 June 2012

NEW GoPro Wi-Fi Combo Kit is Live!

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Thursday, 7 June 2012

Dive fiesta attracts agents - Fiji Times Online

Dive fiesta attracts agents

Wednesday, June 06, 2012
THE Fiji Dive Fiesta 2012 was held at Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort and Spa in Cuvu recently.
While agents from traditional markets including Australia and New Zealand were present, the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association welcomed representatives from the growing Asian dive market as well.
FHTA chief executive officer Michael Wong said the dive market continued to be a lucrative sector for the country’s booming tourism industry.

Dive fiesta attracts agents - Fiji Times Online:

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Fiji Diving with NAI'A, March 12-19 2011

Awesome and VERY Nai'a! Sometimes we miss it...

Sam Cambell's trip video shot from NAI'A using a Sony camera in a Gates housing.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Ma'afu Marine Lecture Series:: Shark Reef Marine Reserve: Conservation, Research and Shark Provisioning

Ma'afu Marine Lecture Series

Shark Reef Marine Reserve: Conservation, Research and Shark Provisioning

Ni sa bula vinaka, Colleagues !!

Mike Neumann has kindly agreed to give this week's Ma'afu Marine Lecture, following on from Helen Sykes' inspiring talk on Fiji's Shark Sanctuary Campaign.

Mike will be talking about the origin of Shark Reef Marine Reserve and associated tourism and research aspects. 

Many of you will have seen a number of press releases this week, announcing that researchers from the University of Miami, Florida have completed the first satellite-tagging study to find out how ecotourism impacts on tiger sharks. I copied a summary of their paper below and attached a related paper from 2011. More information can be found under the following links and may provide a useful background for Mikes' lecture.

Please join us :
Date: 15.03.2012
Time: 4:30 pm
Venue:   Veitiri Conference Room, IUCN Office, 5 Ma'afu Street, Suva 

Mike Neumann is a retired lawyer and banking executive.

He now lives in Fiji and is a full-time marine conservationist with a special interest in Sharks.

As always, please kindly share this invitation widely with friends and colleagues, we look forward to see you on Thursday afternoon in Ma'afu street,

Vinaka Vakalevu,



Don't bite the hand that feeds: Assessing ecological impacts of provisioning ecotourism on an apex marine predator

Neil Hammerschlag, Austing Gallagher, Julia Wester, Jiangang Luo and Jerald Ault

Ecotourism activities that use food to attract and concentrate wildlife for viewing have become a controversial topic. This debate is best exemplified by the shark dive tourism industry, a highly lucrative and booming global market. Use of chum (fish parts and blood) or food to attract sharks to divers has generated significant concerns, with many criticisms focusing on the potential for ecological and behavioral impacts.

To tackle this issue, we conducted the first satellite telemetry study to examine the long range movement patterns of tiger sharks (the largest apex predator in tropical waters) in response to dive tourism. We studied two separate populations of tiger sharks: one that originated in Florida and the other in the Bahamas. At the Bahamas site, nicknamed "Tiger Beach," chum is regularly used to attract sharks for diving purposes. In contrast, shark feeding for ecotourism is illegal in Florida waters.

Satellite tracking revealed that both groups of tiger sharks displayed similar, long distance migration patterns into the Atlantic. Our data suggests that ecotourism activities do not impact the long term shark movements. Instead, this study allowed us to make several new discoveries related to the previously unknown ecology of Atlantic tiger sharks. Tracked sharks spent a large amount of time in the open ocean, thus challenging conventional wisdom that tiger sharks are generally more "coastal" than "pelagic" species. Both groups of sharks followed the Gulf Stream north east, into areas of high productivity, suggesting an opportunistic foraging strategy for this species. This trait, and the relatively low percentage of daily consumption needs estimated to be provided by chumming, may combine to make tiger sharks less susceptible to the behavioral changes explored here. We further speculate that the Bahamas tourism site may serve as an area for female tiger sharks to gestate while pregnant, before heading off to feed or birth elsewhere.

Because shark-based ecotourism generates significant economic and conservation benefits, and further because our data did not provide evidence of tourism impacting long-term movements of tiger sharks, we believe that managers should not prevent shark diving tourism unless new data were to demonstrate otherwise.

Regional Marine Program Coordinator
IUCN Oceania Office
Private Mail Bag
5 Ma'afu Street
Suva, FIJI

Ph     +679 - 331 9084
Fax     +679 - 310 0128
M    +679 - 938 2722

Sunday, 26 February 2012

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Friday, 10 February 2012

Reef Fish Identification: Tropical Pacific ebook now available!

Ned and Paul with Blio

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Now you can take a copy of the Reef Fish Identification: Tropical Pacific with you on your laptop, phone or iPad. The new ebook is available in the Blio format for Android, iPad, iTouch, iPhone and Windows PC computers.

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Friday, 3 February 2012

The Great Fiji Shark Count

Throughout the month of April 2012, you have the opportunity to help celebrate and record Fiji’s amazing coral reef biodiversity, show you care about our world’s delicate coral reef systems, and have fun, by taking part in the FIRST FIJI-WIDE SHARK COUNT!

Easy to do, this is suitable for visitors and locals alike, whether you like to fish, snorkel, or SCUBA dive. We hope that tourists, school children, scientists and all people with an interest in the marine environment will take to the reefs with us to search for the Sharks of Fiji!

Black tip shark Tim Rock

The Great Fiji Shark Count will be held across Fiji in April 2012, and again in November 2012.

You can do a single count, or take part as many times as you like during that month, so that you cover different reefs. All data will be gratefully accepted!

So, see your resort, watersports operator or travel agent, get your Shark identification materials and dive into the beautiful blue waters of Fiji, to be a part of history!

Silver tip shark

The Great Fiji Shark Count


The International Dive Magazine is a global lifestyle magazine focusing on extraordinary dive experiences, dive travel, exotic location and exciting marine life encounters.

Editor-in-chief Jesper KjĂžller extolls what his new publication will and won’t do: ”In our opinion many dive magazines kill the underwater images by cramping too many and too small photographs together in too little space – and then they suffocate the pages further with ugly advertising. Diving is visual activity and with DIVE THE WORLD we will let the images speak for themselves. Our goal is to take the reader along with us on a dive, even if they are relaxing in an armchair or airplane seat with the magazine. Properly telling a story requires space, and we will gladly let an article fill 16 to 20 pages if that is what it takes to bring a story to life.”

A relatively new idea in dive publishing, DIVE THE WORLD is for the traveling diver who enjoys easy tropical diving, marine life encounters and exotic adventures. Get your own subscription here and see a publication schedule here – DTW is on newsstands now.

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Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Voracious Demand Threatens Manta and Mobula Rays

A few years ago, something surprising began turning up in Asia’s fish markets: the gill rakers of manta and mobula rays.

Manta and mobula ray gills at a market.Manta Ray of HopeManta and mobula ray gills at a market.

Shawn Heinrichs and Paul Hilton, photographers who have been monitoring the international soaring trade in shark fins, decided to find out what was going on. The appearance of those creatures in the markets “came as a real shock to us,” Mr. Heinrichs said by phone from Indonesia. “They don’t even taste good, so what was the reason?”

On Saturday, the conservation organizations Shark Savers and WildAid released the results of a comprehensive global studyshowing that these species have been driven to the brink of extinction within a chillingly short space of time. The main reason is demand from China, where their gill rakers (filaments that filter the animals’ food from the water) are marketed as a supposed cure for a variety of ailments.

The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou is the hub of the trade in the dried parts, which retail for as much as $500 a kilogram (roughly $225 a pound), according to the research team’s findings.

The gills are boiled along with other fish products in a soup that is promoted as a cure for anything from chickenpox to cancer. “I call it endangered species soup,” said Mr. Heinrichs, who led the research.

The researchers note that the gills had not previously been prescribed in traditional Chinese medicine, and many of its practitioners conceded in interviews for the study that gill rakers were not effective in treating illness and that many alternatives were available. The rising popularity of the ingredient seems to be the result of traders’ efforts to create a market, the report’s authors concluded.

The growth in demand has been devastating for populations of both rays — all the more so because these creatures reproduce very slowly.

A female manta ray will produce between 10 to 16 pups at best during her lifetime, far fewer than great white sharks, for example, which can produce that many in a single litter. And while great whites are protected under international conventions, manta and mobula rays are not, largely because the fishing pressures described in the new report are little understood by conservationists and the general public.

“The economics and the moral imperative are clear,” Peter Knights, executive director of WildAid, said in a statement. “We need an immediate moratorium on gill raker trade, and measures for complete protection to some populations and to reduce fishing pressure for others.”

A silver lining is that these creatures are also viewed as generators of millions of dollars in tourism revenue because divers and snorkelers travel from far and wide to observe them.

For the time being, however, this is not helping to curb the trade. And because of the extreme vulnerability of the manta and mobula rays, the race to save them is “an entire factor worse” than the race to save sharks, Mr. Heinrichs said.

As I’ve written here before, it took years of campaigning before shark sanctuaries and bans on shark fin possession began to materialize.

With manta and mobula rays, “we simply don’t have the time to go through years of raising public awareness before action is taken,” Mr. Heinrichs said.“The race to preserve these species is almost over before it even started.”

Voracious Demand Threatens Manta and Mobula Rays -