Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Meeting of Bull shark diving service providers

The Bull shark diving services providers meeting was to approach and solve various problems in relation to the bull sharks in the area of Playa del Carmen and its surroundings. This meeting convened by APSA (Association of Providers of Aquatic Services) was informative; in order to make all stakeholders aware of the existing problems and possible solutions.

At the meeting, the talk was about the following key points:

1 Stop illegal fishing of sharks from the coast of Playa del Carmen.

2. Organize the services providers into creative working groups for the elaboration of a management program, for the sustainable exploitation of bull sharks.

Jaime González director of the CONANP (National Commission of Protected Natural Areas), was commissioned to lead the meeting. The November 27 meeting mentioned different initiatives that could be carried out  in order to conserve and sustainably exploit bull sharks, better known as the Chato shark (cacharhinus leucas) in Playa del Carmen.

The bull shark is seen as a natural resource of common property.
Years ago the use given to sharks was purely fishing, diving and tourism are now new approaches that can generate profits higher than fishing and at the same time preserve the resource.

Another variable that enters into relationship, is the increasing awareness and environmental education that people start to have towards the health of our marine ecosystems. A conflict has emerged between service providers and fishermen because the coexistence of these two activities without having clear rules is not possible.

Dr. González stressed that regulations on both sides are needed in order to regulate fishing and tourist operations. Dr. Gonzalez also mentioned that the topic of shark toro is a complex problem with too much noise around it, which is formed by different variables:

• Fishing.
• Observation diving
• Conservation
• Incidents to tourists

Some conclusions were:

1. It is necessary to properly monitor the adherence to responsible fisheries laws; as well as laws of good use of resources. For example; the point that establishes that you can not fish to a minor distance of 10 nautical miles outside from the nautical stripe.

2. The sector dedicated to tourist services should define its own laws, regulations, areas of use, and comply with the minimum security requirements for the provision of the service in a safe manner minimising any risk.

3. It is necessary to define an operation system with standardized rules (creation of a management plan).

4. It is very important to establish the participation of tourist servers with CONANP and other organizations, in order to achieve a better management plan. Also, the plan needs support from all the authorities as possible, SECTUR (Secretary of Tourism), SAGARPA (Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock Development, Rural fishing and Feeding) SEMARNAT (Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources), and CONAPESCA (National Committee on fisheries).

Finally, some keys to achieve this goal are the organization, management, designation of restricted areas and the creation of a general regulation for all those who use the resource of bull sharks. Because both the resource as well as whoever uses it are already the most affected, therefore urgent and collective action for the sake of sharks and all are needed.
It is time to stop entering into controversies and stagnate on issues that can be resolved later, if there is union between the different parties involved and consistent decisions.

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