Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tiger Shark baiting in South Africa - now the good news!!

Actually, not just "good" news - EXCELLENT news!!!

This is the message I received today from Allen Walker, Scottburgh:

"We have completed everything now and I am very happy with the outcome. A solution that works 100% and is maintainable and sustainable, this was important for me, I wanted a solution that will not deteriorate over time resulting in the continuous use of raw materials to sustain a so called "Shark Friendly" baiting method but not environmentally friendly one."

"The bait stem should last 15 years, if not a lifetime making it a viable solution to the other operators even though it is a rather costly solution."

"Bait Ball" is 850 mm in diameter and perfectly round, therefore no purchase points, with a hinge mechanism made from strapping (weight belt). Has rounded shackle for connection to the bait stem."

"A complete solution to all concerns raised i.e. teeth, cuts, scratches, entanglement etc."

You've done it, Allen, you've done it!!

If we were together now, I would kiss you, man!! Guess you are glad that some 12.000 km separate us, huh?..... :-) :-)

I really don't know what to say other than this: Allen Walker was instrumental in working out a viable solution of the problem I had already drawn to Blue Wilderness' attention, unsuccessfully I am afraid to say, back in the early months of 2008.

While the Addisons did not even feel like discussing my more recent concern about tiger sharks getting hurt and sometimes very seriously entangled with the baiting tools they and most other shark operators use in Aliwal Shoal, it was their friend Allen who finally convinced them to think about more shark-friendly baiting techniques.

So Allen and Mark Addison then worked together, along with friends of Allen who were also very much interested in the matter, to develop and test baiting tools that would do the job.

What they have come up with is absolutely perfect, and now Blue Wilderness can boast, thanks to Allen's relentless commitment, to have the best equipment to attract sharks efficiently and in an eco-friendly manner.

I might also mention that Allen and his wife Ronelle bore most of the financial burden and invested a lot of time in looking for, and eventually finding, a viable solution of the problem.

Congratulations to you, Allen, and all those who have been actively involved in creating the new baiting tools!

This fantastic equipment should now be acquired by ALL shark dive operators to ensure that no Aliwal Shoal tiger shark will ever get hurt again in the baiting process.

A big compliment also to Walter Bernardis of African Watersports who took a keen interest in the matter, and drummed up the other shark operators to discuss ways to replace the hitherto used baiting tools, i.e. steel cables, old washing machine drums, edgy nuts and bolts.

On a personal note, and to conclude this regrettable controversy, I would like to state with some sadness that because most of my South African friends (also one Belgian and one Canadian)
turned their backs on me for stubbornly insisting that it was absolutely necessary to introduce better baiting tools, I found out what these friendships were really worth - not much, to put it mildly.

Even though I was quite disappointed to see so little support, and what we call in German Zivilcourage, I could deal with it. These folks who all seemed, or at least pretended, to like "da old Wolf", simply did not understand what drives me, and preferred to be "politically correct" so as to not to antagonize their Blueish friends...

Well, now my ex-friends know that when it comes to testing my convictions, I am quite stiff-necked, and that I put the welfare of sharks above friendships, if circumstances force me to make such a choice.



Debbie said...

Hi Wolfgang. This is indeed great news from your angle and your long standing issues with Blue Wilderness.

However there are unmentioned facts here too, that people need to be aware of, one of which is that Walter Bernadis (African Watersports) and Rob Nettleton (Offshore Africa dive charters) collaborated on all of the initial aspects of this system with the polycop piping and Offshore Africa in purchasing, designing and modifying of mooring buoys into a workable product, which has no purchase points and all of the products used being of great long term benefit from a wear and tear aspect and shark friendly aspect.

It is highly important, from a S.A. point of view, that the above operators are highly commended on their pioneering input into this and their subsequent dialogue with Allen, who assists Blue Wilderness in many aspects and in a nutshell, for this overall product now being in place.

All the above operators have financed these modifications personally and there are other operators, within the Aliwal Shoal dive association, that are undergoing their own modifications where required, based on discussions at our monthly meetings.

It is fair to include all these operators in the changes to tiger shark baiting methods in S.A. and without "all" of them, the modifications would not have happened in the first place.

It would be unfair to single out a single operator as each operator mentioned above has brought something unique to the system, thus formulating the final product that now exists here.

Debbie Smith
Chair person : ASCBOA (Aliwal Shoal charter boat owners association).

Felix Leander said...

Maybe the baiting system will be call "Da Old Wolf" ;)...

Congrats to all the people in SA that made this happen.

Shark Diver said...

Well done everyone, this is first rate industry leadership!

I cannot say enough about this whole grass roots effort.

This is one time the oft used saying "For the sharks!" applies.