Monday, 23 April 2012
Love Sharks Love Fiji
It's been a busy few weeks for me, culminating in me celebrating/mourning turning thirty-three on Friday, giving a dog a haircut and nursing a girlfriend with a broken foot! In the month since the last blog I have been filming more for "Of Shark and Man" which looks awesome (obviously!) and arranging the locations and logistics of the final few UK shots and working on a video testimony for the amazing Novatech.
In amongst the last week or so of total madness, I have been truly heartened by seeing Fiji finally getting some love amongst the various social medias for the efforts of a small group of passionate people and politicians who actually see the bigger picture in regards to protection for sharks and other wonderful marine creatures.
To be honest, it's about time. The Fijian government, with the support and assistance of Pew and Coral Reef Alliance amongst others have long been making steady and considered steps towards full, nationwide protection for Sharks and Manta Rays, listening to the advice from scientists, going through years of painstaking data collection and now looking at the figures that prove beyond doubt that Fiji's relatively healthy shark population is one of the jewels in the crown of this most wonderful South Pacific island nations. US$42.2 million is about FJ$75,276,489.48 and that is a lot of money to a third world country.
Fijians are proud people with a rich sea-faring tradition and sharks play a big part of that, the folklore in some of the islands has the shark as a deity, worshipped and revered, so to offer full protection to sharks in Fijian waters is not just a political or environmental decision, it's a cultural one and it looks at this stage, like a sanctuary is now closer than ever but it's not a done deal yet.
The model in Fiji is one which could and should be adapted elsewhere. It has been a long road and one which took in an economic benefit of conservation, with the study of the ecological benefit and married the two together with science and irrefutable facts. There were no petitions, at least not at that stage, it has been an exhaustive exercise in bureaucracy (as would have been the case anywhere) attention to detail and education and outreach and it has all been handled with skill, finesse and the quiet unassuming ways in which the Fijian people do things. They are not doing this for plaudits or celebrity, they are doing this because it needs doing.
What else makes this special is that it has been done by the people for the people, it isn't a vehicle for celebrities to ride the wave of other people's work, it's about doing something which benefits us all and it is only right the efforts so far are celebrated by anyone with an interest in the marine environment .
There are two PSAs so if you haven't seen them yet, watch them, share them and leave a supportive comment, use your Facebook and Twitter account to alert people to the continued efforts to create Melanesia's first Shark Sanctuary and get people talking about it. It's easy and shows that not just Fijians are behind this.
Of course, "Of Shark and Man" will tell the full story which has never been done before and the greatest honour of all to me, was that I can tell this story through the people making it happen. Please get behind the people of Fiji and support them in their efforts to make Fiji another South Pacific sanctuary for Sharks, they may not want the celebrity or attention that goes with it, but they sure as hell deserve it!
Bula Vinaka Viti!