Sunday, April 04, 2010

The CITES disaster as seen from a different angle.

Mike Da Shark, aka Mike Neumann, is a man who has an incisive and independent mind. He will open his mouth or sharpen his pen only when he has something solid to say; and when he does, it's like - WHAMMMMMMM.

Take your time and read this. It is, to me, by far the best comment on the recent CITES Convention I have come across.

The shark world as I have gotten to know it during the last three years or so just needs a few more people of the intellectual and ethical caliber of Mike Da Shark to make a tangible difference!


Jupp said...

Dear Mike, ever since I met you in Palm Beach I really respect your opinions and I respect you as a person. I read your article and in parts you are right, but it all boils downs to determination and money.

The determination was there but, of course, the ego problems are always a big obstacle. I went to Doha for the first time as president of SRI and I was not only snubbed, I even experienced certain hostility by some people, who basically wanted the same thing we did. It seems to be a phenomena within shark conservation, that everybody wants to do things his or should I say her way. People just don’t like each other and don’t want to work together. They don’t like the idea, that we are strong only, if we are united. This is definitely a big problem.

You are right by saying “that we paid ourselves a trip to Doha”, because we, from the Shark Research Institute, paid our own way; thousands of dollars out of our own pockets. Compared to the 50 people the Japanese sent to Doha, including the lavish sushi party in the Japanese embassy, that is peanuts, I know. They must have spent millions because by killing the blue fin tuna, they make billions.

Why didn’t our government finance some people who know what they are talking about? Our US delegation had a meeting every afternoon but didn’t really care much about what was said by NGOs. They did not encourage being contacted. The real scientists, like our Dr. Compagno, were never even asked for their opinion and you are only allowed to speak when you are asked to do so.

I don’t think it is fair to call us “a group of naïve and clueless amateurs”. The problem was that the real brainpower did not get the chance by the government delegation, to explain things how they really are. When the head of the delegation mentioned that CITES was not a failure, and called it “a journey”, I called it a journey into extinction. If that is “whining”, I can’t help it.

And now I’ll leave it up to smarter people than I obviously am, to come up with a better strategy. You all have 3 years to do it and I’ll be happy to let you go there and change things for the better. I’ll be happy to stay home, save my money and let you do the job.

DaShark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DaShark said...

Dear Jupp

Chapeau: das hat Format - wie nicht anders erwartet!

Look, I’m acutely aware that hindsight is 20/20 vision and that it’s easy to be a wisecrack after the fact.
Please believe me when I say that this is not about some petty NGO bashing or the like. Ideally, it is meant to lead to reflection, robust discussion and ultimately, hopefully, to more success going forward. Patric did also suggest a strategy meeting among conservation CEOs and I think it’s a great idea!

For what it’s worth, I really do believe that CITES will always be the wrong forum for deciding upon the fate of a multi-billion global industry employing hundreds of thousands of people, rich and poor. Compare that to the scope of, say, the ivory trade or even whaling in its heyday and you may see where I’m coming from.

The message from CITES as I understand it is not about business trumping conservation. It is essentially this: let the local professionals handle this on a regional basis.
I happen to concur that this is the best way to go.

I promise you that overfishing is the single largest policy conundrum plaguing every single fisheries officer around the globe. In that regard, I’m intimately convinced that all of them know that there is an acute problem and that in theory, the only possible long-term solution is sustainable fishing.

But like it or not, this will always remain an eminently political issue and any solutions will have to be based on pragmatic compromises that will ultimately leave everybody unhappy: the conservationists, the businessmen, the politicians, the consumers and the fishermen alike.

If we want to partake in the process, we will only be accepted if on top of depicting the problem, we are also being perceived as being part of the solution – as in helping in education, mitigation and enforcement.
If so, we may indeed succeed in tipping the balance in favor of conservation.

Don’t give up.

In Freundschaft