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September 30, 2010

Mozambique Shark Fin Trade Growing

BBC, Phillipe Cousteau Jr. and his team recently visited Mozambique to document the growing shark fin trade. According to the below clip from the film, most people in the country live off just $1 per day. It’s obvious why shark fining is so appealing when the fins from a large shark are worth as much as $60. Just "six sharks can provide a year's income,” says the narrator.

Unfortunately, the export of shark fins is so lucrative that it has kept regulation protecting sharks from being passed in Mozambique.

Posted by jroualdes at 10:19 PM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2010

Mala Warf Dive Profile

Last month, I visited Maui to dive Black Rock, Slaughter House, Five Caves, Old Airport Beach and my personal favorite... Mala Warf -- also called Mala Ramp and Lahaina Pier. I love diving Mala Warf for several reasons:

- Environment: Mala Warf was originally a concrete pier built to load agriculture from the island onto ships. Eventually, it was closed and collapsed into the ocean. What remains is a pile of concrete slabs turned artificial reef littered across the ocean floor 25 to 30 feet below the surface. Many of the slabs have created tipis large enough to swim through.

- Location, location, location: It's located less than five minutes North of Lahaina and 10 minutes South Kannapali. Since I live in San Francisco and regularly drive more than two hours down to Monterey and Carmel to dive, I appreciate the short drive. I also don't mind recapping dives with friends over Mai Tais at Mala Ocean Tavern right up the street.

- Wildlife: Mala Warf is best known for being home to several white tip reef sharks and a cleaning station for green sea turtles. On my visits, I've come across everything from eels to frog fish to scorpion fish. A dive master at Maui Dive Shop told me she's even seen a tiger shark at the North West point of the dive site.

The white tip reef sharks, schooling fish and the green sea turtle resting on the concrete structure in the video below were shot at Mala Warf and provide insight into what to expect.

Maui 2010 Video from Joe Roualdes on Vimeo.

Beware though... a boat ramp adjacent to Mala Warf is still active. When diving the site, divers must swim through a boat channel. Do not dive the site without a dive flag. Otherwise, you'll wind up as chum.

To get to Mala Warf from Kannapali, head South on State Highway 30 --also called Honoapiilani Highway. Veer right at Canoe Restaurant onto Front Street. Turn right at the small church on the right with the neon sign on its roof. Stay right -- do not veer left onto Ala Moana Street. Drive straight and you'll hit Mala Warf.

Plenty of parking is available. Once you're geared up, head down to the crescent beach located to the right of the boat ramp. While fenced off, part of Mala Warf still stands. Surface swim beyond the boat channel, then veer left towards the Warf that's still standing. Descend there, swimming to the right or beach side of the dive site. Swim counter clockwise around the wreckage, ending where you started.

For more information, click here.

Posted by jroualdes at 12:56 AM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2010

Ban Shark Fining in the Bahamas

While it seems unthinkable, commercial shark fining in the Bahamas may soon be legal. SUNCO Wholesale Seafood Ltd. is exploring the export of shark fins caught in the Bahamas. Despite contributing to the Bahamas' growing eco-tourism sector, sharks are unprotected because they've never been commercially fished in the country. "Tourism as an industry not only accounts for over 60 percent of the Bahamian GDP, but provides jobs for more than half the country's workforce," according to Encyclopedia of the Nations.

In response, dive master Cristina Zenato, conservationist Pedro Baranda and local and international environmental groups have teamed up to draft legislation that bans fining in the Bahamas. They've even launched an online petition asking the Prime Minister, Minister of Tourism and Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources to ban fining.

According to the petition, which has garnered more than 6,000 signatures, "Every year, up to 73 million sharks are slaughtered for their fins, meat, cartilage, liver and skin. And 30 percent of shark species are threatened or near threatened with extinction."

Joe Romeiro has also lent his support. Last week, the filmmaker posted the below short film, called "Nina Salerosa," on YouTube to illustrate the gentler side of Caribbean reef sharks.

To sign the online petition, click here.

Posted by jroualdes at 11:09 PM | Comments (0)