Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rep Gene Ward - When Politicians Kill Tourism

This is the actual promotional flyer put out by Rep Gene Wards office in Hawaii this week.

It is one sided, anti-tourism, anti-shark diving and designed for one purpose only - to inflame an already angry populace (click image).

"Should Shark Tours be banned? If so How so?"

This is not the face of balanced tourism discussions. This is political theater, stoking an already angry mob to further anger and distrust of two operations in Hawaii that have been on the forefront of shark tourism in the region for the past 10 years.

Rep Ward is a savvy politician, like recent health care town hall debates across the country he knows what buttons to push and how to work the crowd. The people he has brought to these town hall meetings he is calling "his constituents," hoping to use their anger as justification and a shield for killing shark tourism in Hawaii.

Unfortunately the anti-shark diving sentiment being raised by Rep Wards efforts and staff has gone past coherent discussion and is now a full fledged witch hunt of epic proportions. In the long multi-million dollar history of tourism in Hawaii no single politician has gone after small business owners with this kind of directed public anger and mistrust. Using the fear of sharks three nautical miles off the mainland as his "wedge issue".

All is not lost.

The industry has seen this kind of effort before. A quick look into Rep Gene Wards political career shows a politician who sees tourism vision for Hawaii, as in his support for Spaceports on the islands.

We're pretty sure Rep Ward is not completely anti-tourism, as he is presiding over the worst tourism economy in the past 40 years with Hawaii suffering a 25% loss in revenues since 2008.

What is needed in Hawaii right now is rational discussion not political theatre. Meetings with officials and operators to define shark tourism in Hawaii and abide by hard and fast rules and regulations that keep 10,000 shark diving tourists coming back to Hawaiian waters year after year.

Miss Universe® Contestants Visit Bimini Sands Resort & Marina

Shark Free Marinas supporter and member Bimini Sands hosts Miss Universe® contestants this week:

Bimini, Bahamas (PRWEB) August 13, 2009 -- This past weekend several fortunate contestants of the 2009 Miss Universe Pageant paid a visit to the island of Bimini as part of the events leading up to the competition on August 23rd.

A total of twenty contestants from around the globe were welcomed to Bimini including Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Ghana, Great Britain, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Solvenia, South Africa, Spain and Sweden.

The Miss Universe competitors attended a number of cultural activities on the island and ended the day with an excursion to Bimini Sands Resort & Marina,

There they were picked up by the Bimini Sands Magic Bus, a tourist favorite with its colorful neon paint scheme. After a scenic tour aboard the Magic Bus the contestants arrived at the picturesque Bimini Beach Club. At the Beach Club they danced to live music by the local band Prime Time. The Bimini Sands resort staff even got in on the action and led the contestants in a number of Bahamian dances. The Miss Universe party was also treated to delectable cuisine from the Beach Club Restaurant, with the fresh Sushi Bar being a big hit. Rounding out the event was a visit to the popular Mackey's Sand Bar for a little R&R before leaving the island.

Bimini Sands wishes them the best of luck in the upcoming pageant and hopes to see them in the future. These lovely ladies will always be welcome on Bimini.

About Bimini Sands Resort & Marina

Bimini Sands Resort & Marina is located on the island of Bimini in the Bahamas, just 50 miles from the US. The full service resort features luxury one and two bedroom suites and protected deepwater marina. Nestled on a picturesque Bahamian beach, all suites have direct ocean or marina views. Amenities include the Petite Conch Cafe, Mackey's Sand Bar, the Beach Club Restaurant & Sushi Bar, poolside Tiki Bar, the Bimini Nature Trail, two pools, tennis courts and a lovely white sand beach. The resort maintains a full service Recreation & Activities Center that specializes in guided eco-tours such as snorkeling, sea kayaking, shark encounters, nature walks, boat tours and more. The Recreation & Activities Center was recently nominated for a prestigious Cacique Award for sustainable tourism by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.

Bimini Sands Marina is a proud member of the Shark Free Marinas Initiative.

Frank Cooney Jr.
Bimini Sands Resort & Marina
Bimini, Bahamas

Local sport fishing company's employee figures in shark "beat down" video

The power of new media and You Tube to effect conservation change has been well known. Savvy NGO's and conservationists have been using this format to "spread the message" cheaply, organically, and effectively.

Another, often overlooked aspect of this new media is enforcement. Video's posted to You Tube and picked up by social networking groups that highlight misdeeds with shark at the hands of fishermen, commercial operations, and the general public lead to effective change as well.

No one, it seems, wants to be caught with a viral video highlighting bad things with sharks.

We live in a new and exciting media times.

This week another example of negative/positive shark conservation media from Canada. Fortunately for the company involved they pulled the offending video in time to defuse a much larger outcry, but not quickly enough to make the daily news:

Sarah Douziech, Westerly News

A local sport fishing company has disciplined an employee after an online video depicting him smacking a dogfish on a ship's deck and throwing it overboard surfaced on CTV news this week.

The video, called "Ucluelet July 25. 2009 Mud Shark Beat Down," was posted to the popular video website YouTube. Brian Clarkson, manager of the Canadian Princess Resort in Ucluelet, said he saw the news report and followed up with an investigation at work because the man in the video is on one of the resort's boats and is wearing a sweatshirt with the resort's logo.

Complete Story

Shark Conservation Messaging, Fiji, Imagine

We have been continually impressed with the ongoing commercial shark diving and conservation efforts of Beqa Adventure Divers in Fiji. They have been innovative leaders in the community.

From set aside regional shark reef reserves, to refusing Shark Porn in film and television, they often do what is right, rather than what is easy.

In our industry you lead by example.

This week we want to highlight BAD on a recent shark conservation PSA. Once again setting the bar for conservation messaging by a commercial shark diving operator - this video is short, visually stunning, and meaningful to a broad range of viewers.

Watching this clip you cannot help but imagine the force multiplier effect of 500 similar PSA's featuring worldwide sites and guest speakers from the global shark diving community.

Like we said many months ago in a post “Noblesse Oblige" this video represents the finest example of that ethic. Operators on the front lines of an issue taking a stand for what is right, for the betterment of the entire shark diving community and for the sharks themselves: