After another incredible dive yesterday with Mike and his team from Beqa Adventure Divers watching Fiji`s enormous Bull Sharks, I had the pleasure to sit down with a couple of other shark researchers and conservationists. One of them was Rick MacPherson who is currently working on his incredibly important and promising private project: he is about to launch the website sustainablesharkdiving.com which might bring big changes in the industry of shark diving!
Sharks are not only increasingly fished throughout the world, they are also increasingly gaining status as a potential money-making resource other than on the global fin and fish market: they draw thousands of divers to places across the globe to spend a lot of money to see these iconic ocean species in the wild. Of course, with the possibility of making good money in bringing divers close to sharks, shark dive operators are quickly emerging with many of them prioritising fast money rather than being interested in long-term species conservation, diver education and support of scientific research. That’s something that should be changed towards a majority of responsible shark diving operations!
When Rick told me about his idea of creating kind of a tripadvisor webpage for the shark diving industry, it struck me that it is surprising that something like this has not yet been established, and how overdue it is. Besides just giving five stars and sharing the great personal experience that you had, clients will soon be able to rate the dive centers in a variety of ways: How much have you learnt about the species biology? How involved are the operators in conservation-based actviities? How was safety assured during the dives and how are the animals treated during the feeding or diving operations?
Based on the reviews regarding conservation, education, safety and dive protocols, certain shark dives might be urged to change and/or adapt towards a better, more sustainable way of operating (if they want to keep their clients), which will not only help the involved divers but will also be beneficial for the sharks.
Currently Rick’s website is about to be launched and he has adopted a crowdfunding campaign to solve the last programming issues – every little donation is highly appreciated and a great help towards shark diving sustainability!
As Rick states on gofundme:
“SustainableSharkDiving.com was created as a free, online tool for the rapidly growing shark dive tourism community to make more informed choices about the businesses shark divers choose to support, recognize those businesses employing sustainable best practices, and encourage businesses that may need to improve their environmental performance to ensure the safety of both their clients and sharks. This is an experiment to see if consumer voices can help build a stronger, safer, more sustainable industry.”
I would say this experiment is a very promising one and I am looking forward to follow its development over the next couple of years!