Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts today announced its ‘Sustainable Seafood Policy’ including the commitment to cease serving shark fin in all of its operated restaurants as well as accepting new orders for shark fin products in banqueting with immediate effect.

Congratulations to these guys! A BIG hotel chain based in Hong Kong and throughout the Asia region!

Shangri-La Announces Sustainable Seafood Policy And Discontinuing Use Of All Shark Fin Products in 72 hotels and resorts
17 Jan 2012
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts today announced its ‘Sustainable Seafood Policy’ including the commitment to cease serving shark fin in all of its operated restaurants as well as accepting new orders for shark fin products in banqueting with immediate effect.

Future banquet bookings made prior to this date will be honoured as per the signed contractual agreement. At the same time, Shangri-La announced that it will phase out Bluefin tuna and Chilean sea bass in all its operated restaurants within the year. In December 2010 the company initiated the process with the removal of shark fin products from its restaurant menus. The new policy is a continuation of Shangri-La’s journey towards environmental support.

The company launched its first CSR initiatives in 2005 which were streamlined and formalised in 2009 in the three main areas of Sustainability, Embrace and Sanctuary towards a strategic commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility.

‘Sanctuary, Shangri-La’s Care for Nature’ project was introduced specifically to ensure consistency in biodiversity, conservation and habitat protection across all resorts. Projects include the development of marine sanctuaries to ensure reef protection and stability of the underwater and marine life. Two years later, in May 2011, the company published its first Sustainability Report outlining the company’s progress in the areas of environment, health and safety, employees, supply chain and stakeholder relations.

Shangri-La’s ethos and core values show a commitment to the environment that the company does business in. As part of the CSR efforts, Shangri-La has been working on a number of projects related to sustainability for several years. The sustainable seafood campaign has been on the forefront as the initiative will deliver immediate results.

Shangri-La will continue to review and refine its overall programmes including environmental and sustainability issues.

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts today announced its ‘Sustainable Seafood Policy’ including the commitment to cease serving shark fin in all of its operated restaurants as well as accepting new orders for shark fin products in banqueting with immediate effect

Monday, 16 January 2012

To the rescue - Fiji Times Online

To the rescue - Fiji Times Online

A NADI resident who has been closely following the Shark Sanctuary Campaign was disgusted to find that the bodies of mutilated baby sharks are regularly on sale at the Nadi fishmarket.

Lavenia Mataitoga had been made aware of the issues with shark fishing in Fiji through The Fiji Times Save the Shark Campaign and the screenings of the Coral Reef Alliance documentary Shark Hope.
The dive operation she works for, Reef Safari Diving in Port Denarau Marina, also has an active environmental education program for all its staff led by marine biologist Maddy Carse.
Consequently when Ms Mataitoga encountered juvenile whitetip reef sharks and endangered hammerhead sharks in the market, she was outraged.
The shark defender challenged the sellers, and since then, one of them has stopped trading in sharks.
The other identified himself as a "middleman", not a fisherman.
He was selling the bodies of whitetip reef sharks, which had already had their fins cut off for the shark fin trade, for $F2 each.
Baby sharks are regularly caught in the Nadi Bay river estuaries, showing that this is a valuable breeding ground for these endangered species.
Many sharks do not breed until they are 10-15 years old, and then usually only have two to six babies.
If the babies are killed before they have a chance to reproduce, it will reduce the number of adult sharks, and the population will be destroyed.
Living sharks are vital to a healthy reef fish population and also bring millions of dollars to Fiji from tourists who come to go shark diving.
Killing them for $2 just doesn't make sense, economically or environmentally.
"The majority of divers have a high expectation of seeing sharks when diving in Fiji," says Reef Safaris general manager Andrew Cole.
"And all have a high respect for these apex creatures and for their necessity to have populations restored to true balance in order to protect the ecosystem of the marine world.
"Take away the sharks and the reputation of Fiji diving being a visual, dynamic and exciting experience has a high potential of being damaged and there are numerous other dive destinations around the world that may then be considered as holiday destinations at the expense of Fiji."
Ms Mataitoga had the courage of her convictions and spoke to the shark sellers, explaining that sharks are endangered and that they should be preserved.
She spoke out in the market and made sure her point was understood.
If we all did the same, we could stop this ugly trade very quickly.
Let's protect Fiji's sharks.
Any time you see sharks, shark meat or shark fin soup for sale, talk politely to the people doing it and explain why we should be protecting sharks. Or, if you prefer, just cut out the box below and give it to the person. Many people are still not aware why this is a problem, but by spreading the information, you can make a real difference, one shark at a time.
* Living sharks are important to the environment, tourism economy, and culture of Fiji.
* They are extremely vulnerable to overfishing as they grow slowly and breed at a late age and in small numbers.
* Shark fishing is not part of Fijian tradition or long-term fisheries practice.
* Please do not sell, buy or eat shark fin soup.
Become A Fiji Shark Defender!
* Helen Sykes works with shark campaigner Manoa Rasigatale and the Coral Reef Alliance, in conjunction with Pew, to create awareness and help bring about legislation for a sanctuary to protect sharks in Fiji's waters.

The 'million dollar manta' being killed worldwide for unproven health tonics

Manta report
Download report
Manta rays are so popular with divers and snorkelers that a single animal can 'earn' more than US$ 1 million over its lifetime for local eco-tourism, according to a new report issued by the Manta Ray of Hope Project. Despite their popularity and lucrative tourism value, the report provides shocking evidence that these graceful and gentle giants are rapidly disappearing due to extreme fishing pressure that is largely unknown by the general public or conservationists.

The Manta Ray of Hope Project, a joint effort of two conservation organizations, Shark Savers and WildAid, released a comprehensive report documenting worldwide manta and mobula declines due to the trade in their gills. The report, entitled "Manta Ray of Hope: The Global Threat to Manta and Mobula Rays" provides the most far-reaching research ever conducted into both the intensive overfishing of mantas and mobulas as well as the trade in their gill rakers that are driving mantas and mobulas to the point of population collapse.

Manta Ray of Hope / Shark Savers / WildAid

The destruction of ray populations is the result of demand for their gill rakers, with an estimated market value of $11 million annually. That is a fraction of the value of manta and mobula ray tourism, which is estimated at over $100 million per year, globally.

Shawn Heinrichs, Manta Ray of Hope team leader, explains, "While the gills are valuable for this trade, it is also robbing local economies and the environment of one of the most charismatic creatures in the ocean that could draw millions of dollars each year for those communities."

Lead investigator Paul Hilton added, "We first came across manta and mobula ray gills in Asian markets several years ago and followed the trail to the dried seafood markets of Southern China. It's sad to see these animals follow the same path to extinction as sharks."

Dead mantas
Manta Ray of Hope / Shark Savers / WildAid

Manta and mobula ray populations are severely impacted by any kind of targeted fishing because they have extremely limited reproductive biology. These rays can take ten or more years to reach sexual maturity and typically produce only one pup every two to three years. In comparison, even the Great White shark which is listed under CITES Appendix II and widely considered to be one of the world's most vulnerable species, may produce as many pups in one litter as a manta ray does over its entire lifetime.

As a result, every area with active fisheries directed against manta and mobula rays reports devastating and rapid declines in populations of these rays. In certain regions, such as the Sea of Cortez, the oceanic manta ray (M. birostris) has largely disappeared. The aggressive trade in gill rakers continues in several of the key range states for mobulids with the largest landings documented in Sri Lanka, India, and Indonesia.

"If action is not taken quickly, manta and mobula rays will likely face regional extinctions because of unregulated fisheries", said Michael Skoletsky, Executive Director of Shark Savers. "Anyone who has gone diving with mantas knows them to be intelligent, graceful, and engaging animals. It would be a tragedy to lose them."

Executive Director of WildAid, Peter Knights, adds that "Mantas can generate tens of millions of dollars of long term sustainable tourism revenue for less wealthy nations, or for a few million we can let them go extinct for an obscure and dubious folk cure. The economics and the moral imperative are clear - we need an immediate moratorium on gill raker trade and measures for complete protection to some populations and to reduce fishing pressure for others."

Manta gill
Manta Ray of Hope / Shark Savers / WildAid

The gills of manta and mobula rays are dried and boiled for preparation as a health tonic that is purported to treat a wide range of ailments. Yet the report's researchers did not find the gill raker remedy listed in the official Traditional Chinese Medicine manual. However, that has not prevented its use as a pseudo-medicinal tonic, driven by direct marketing to consumers by importers in Guangzhou, China, the primary destination for this trade.

The report, Manta Ray of Hope: The Global Threat to Manta and Mobula Rays highlights what is known about the remarkable biology and ecology of manta and mobula rays, explains the extreme threats they face, describes the fisheries and trade that target these rays, and offers some solutions via alternative, non-consumptive uses for communities to profit from them, sustainably. The information provided in the report will enable decision-makers to move swiftly in enacting critical protections for manta and mobula rays.

Manta Ray of Hope received support from the Silvercrest Foundation, Hrothgar Investments Ltd, and private donors. Manta Ray of Hope: The Global Threat to Manta and Mobula Rays received additional guidance and data from many of the foremost manta researchers and scientists throughout the world.

About Shark Savers: Shark Savers was founded in 2007 by six long-time divers driven by a shared passion - to save the world's dwindling shark and ray populations. Today, more than 20,000 members from 99 nations share that passion. Focusing on action and results, Shark Savers programs result in saving the lives of sharks and rays. By leveraging professional experience and expertise, Shark Savers brings this important issue to the masses in many compelling forms, motivating people to stop consuming sharks and shark fin soup, and working for the creation of shark sanctuaries and other protections. For more information, please visit

About WildAid: WildAid focuses on addressing the human threat to wildlife. Our comprehensive approach includes public awareness campaigns and educational initiatives to reduce consumer demand for wildlife products, and working with communities to support and enforce key protected habitats around the world. For more information, please visit

About Manta Ray of Hope Project: The Manta Ray of Hope Project is a joint initiative that includes top field investigators, leadings scientists and researchers, all working together to further the conservation of manta and mobula rays. The project was founded by Shark Savers and WildAid, with support from the Silvercrest Foundation, Hrothgar Investments, and private donors. Manta Ray of Hope is developing global conservation campaigns based on sound science, including:

  • Manta Ray of Hope: The Global Threat to Manta and Mobula Rays, a comprehensive study of the destructive fishing and consumption of Mobulids.
  • Establishment of trade bans and sanctuaries.
  • Education and awareness campaigns for consumers.
  • Ecotourism development in fishing communities.
For more information

Manta Ray of Hope - Documentary

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Dear Santa, Bring Me a Manta (HD)

This is the second famous song to be specifically written at and inspired by beautiful Matava by the Scuba Cowboy!

Underwater Digital Photo System for under $400

Epoque’s New 8MP Digital Underwater Camera System Now Available For Under $400!!!!

Epoque EHD-800Ai digital underwater cameraIn the past, it was very expensive to get into underwater photography. Today, with the growth of digital technology and advanced imaging designs, it’s never been easier for the beginning underwater photographer. This week, Epoque USA announced a new 8 megapixel digital underwater camera and housing that has a suggested retail of less than $400.

Here’s some excerpts of the release:

Epoque USA has begun distribution of its EHD-800Ai underwater digital camera and housing to photo dealers. The EHD-800Ai is an 8MP digital camera in its own dedicated housing capable of protecting the camera down to 150 feet underwater. The form fitted housing is compact, lightweight, and easy for any underwater photographer to handle. Its ergonomic controls offer easy access to all the camera functions so changing important settings underwater is possible. It is constructed from molded ABS plastics for maximum strength and durability for reliable protection and performance in rugged activities.

The EHD-800Ai features an autofocus 3X optical zoom lens with a 35mm equivalent range of 36mm-108mm. It also has a macro focus setting for shooting the smallest underwater subjects. The lens is equipped with a 55mm threaded lens attachment ring for mounting the Epoque DCL-20 wide angle conversion lens with a magnification factor of .56, or the DML-2 macro conversion lens with a 2X magnification factor.

The EHD-800Ai has a built-in flash and programmed auto exposure. To expand the system for greater photographic challenges, external slave strobes can be attached with an accessory strobe tray and arm system and a fiber optic cord for flash synchronization. Epoque ES-150 DSĪ± and the ES-230 DS Auto strobes can function as slaves for use with the EHD-800Ai. The strobes are compact, high performance strobes which can be used with any underwater camera system via their Nikonos type sync cord connector, a fiber optic cord, or as a wireless slave.

In addition too being perfect for scuba divers who enjoy underwater photography, the EHD-800Ai is also the perfect outdoor camera for capturing great digital images in activities like surfing, ocean kayaking, and white water paddling. Like every Epoque photo system, the EHD-800Ai can be used as a stand alone photo tool, or it can become the center of an expanding system of accessories for increased creative control. Epoque is the most diverse and affordable high quality product line in underwater and outdoor photography.

Epoque underwater products, with worldwide corporate headquarters and manufacturing facilities in Japan, offers a full line of underwater photo and video products. Epoque products have been a favorite of novice and advanced underwater photographers for over 20 years, and are distributed in 35 countries. Epoque USA, a division of Proteus Adaptive Devices LLC with over 30 years experience in underwater photography, is the exclusive authorized distributor of Epoque products in the USA.

For specific details, visit the website at :

For complete information visit the web at, or call 203-599-1203.

Underwater Digital Photo System for under $400

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Fiji Underwater photos are up! - Underwater Photography and Scuba News

Well I started with well over a thousand photos. Deleted hundreds. Probably should have deleted more but oh well. Here is the Main album.

There are 4 subs listed on the left side of the screen. Images are organized by where they were taken. Kai Viti and Ra Divers were the two operations I went out with. Both great crews. I would use them again without hesitation. Fiji Underwater Snorkeling

Shore Dives Ra Divers Kai Viti Divers
Fiji Underwater photos are up! - Underwater Photography and Scuba News