Tigers caught and killed at a local marina in the Bahamas I was, like everyone in the region, shocked.
The Tigers that had been killed were most likely from an area that we run commercial shark diving operations in, a place called Tiger Beach.
It was this singular event that put us into motion as a commercial shark diving company to develop the master plan for what became the Shark-Free Marinas Initiative.
SFMI became a way to bypass local governments, enacting metrics based shark conservation with the help of local marinas who would demand that their sport fishermen do not come back to their marinas with dead sharks.
In the hands of Luke Tipple a marine biologist the SFMI became a living breathing entity that quickly partnered with the Humane Society, Guy Harvey and PADI, who provided this NGO with the broad based funding and backing it needed to grow and prosper.
Today the Shark-Free Marinas Initiative continues to grow, celebrating another 70+ marinas last week. Saving sharks and educating a fishing public one marina at a time.
It must also be said of this initiative that Fiji's role was absolutely critical in getting the SFMI off the ground and into a broader acceptance. Fiji is home to a 73 million dollar shark diving industry and is a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation thanks in part to a small, discreet, and very powerful group within Fiji who have been mapping out this transformation for the past decade.
Additionally the help of two members of the shark dive/film community in the Bahamas must be recognized as well. Duncan Brake and Jillian Morris (recently married) helped bring the Shark-Free Marinas Initiative to their home waters signing up the first Bahamian marinas.
The push to bring the SFMI to life was not limited to just these people and organizations, bloggers, divers, photographers, and Facebook friends all contributed and all helped in ways that brought an idea to life. They laid the groundwork.
The Shark-Free Marinas Initiative truly came to being when the very best of our industry came together to grow and foster a conservation idea that was born from our own industry and actual disaster.
Metrics based conservation initiatives always start with an idea, some action, and some help from the wider community.
Looking back at the past four years of activity and growth I am proud to see what this effort has become. Back in 2008 we were at a complete loss, we had no idea how to stop the slaughter we just knew that something had to be done. Fortunately others saw the vision we put forward and together we're pushing back against the tide, one marina at a time.
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Patric Douglas CEO