Ecological Achievements

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Save Sharks Cove

Save Sharks Cove # 1
February 1999
North Shore Neighborhood Board Monthly Meeting
Being based on the North Shore we dive at a spot called Sharks Cove on a regular basis. This spot was voted one of the top 12 shore dives in the world by the readers of Rodale's Scuba Diving magazine in 1996. Despite this, the area is not protected. Although the state made it a "Marine Life Conservation District" (MLCD) in 1983. It also allowed exceptions to the normal rules so that spear fishing, pole fishing and even netting are allowed in the area. This MLCD is one of many "feel good" conservation areas throughout the state that do virtually nothing to protect our marine resources. At a typical meeting with 10-15 residents attending I stated what a "disgrace" I felt the area was. I also stated that it was an "embarrassment" to the visitors of the world who could see our obviously backwards conservation policies.
  Save Sharks Cove # 4

Save Sharks Cove #2
March 1999
North Shore Neighborhood Board Monthly Meeting
Once again my point at this meeting was to expose the total lack of marine life protection on the North Shore. Of the 50 miles of coastline we have, literally not one inch is protected. As a dive operation we believe it is our highest priority to change that, and it was with that message I spoke once again. The reality is that on the entire island of Oahu, roughly three miles of coastline is protected. This is fairly typical throughout the state and it is a broader goal of ours to expose that, so that changes are made. As a result primarily from our statement a State Senator (Bunda) and his aid got directly involved in a new push to compel the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to open up rules changes, which could prohibit the taking of marine life at Sharks Cove. Indeed they did and the wheels began to turn.

Save Sharks Cove #3
June 22, 1999
North Shore Neighborhood Board Monthly Meeting
After my last statement the wheels indeed were turning to change the status of Sharks cove. DLNR, a Senator and a relatively apathetic community were now involved. DLNR came to this meeting with the proposal to change the rules at Sharks Cove, which would prohibit the taking of marine life and create the North Shore's first ever-true marine sanctuary. This proposal as popular as it would be with the majority of North Shore residents was met with a very vocal minority of fishermen whose primary interest was access, not conservation. Either way, public awareness was heavily increased and dozens of residents were now participating in the meeting, which is typically a very sleepy affair. The decision was made to allow full public input at the following Neighborhood Board Meeting. It was made clear to me from a very credible source that if only 10-15% opposition was voiced that DLNR would drop the rule changes and the highly, insufficient status quo would continue. The official "Save Sharks Cove" campaign was born at this time and it has become our highest priority as a dive operation to assure Sharks Cove becomes our first Sanctuary, and if we are successful, significantly expanded. The stage was set for one of the biggest North Shore Neighborhood Board Meetings ever in July.

Save Sharks Cove Cleanup
July 24th, 1999
Sharks Cove, North Shore Oahu
With the big neighborhood board meeting in three days, a Sharks Cove Cleanup was in order, although we clean up the cove almost daily in summer. Direct Action to us means removing fishing line when we see it. Unfortunately there is no lack of discarded fishing line at Sharks Cove. Three teams of 4-5 divers conducted one dive each on this day and unwrapped line from approximately 100 coral heads. This line as we very well know ends up wrapping around other marine life such as turtles, dolphins, and anything else that swims. We also removed a large outboard motor, which had been dumped.

Save Sharks Cove # 4
July 27, 1999

North Shore Neighborhood Board Meeting
With tremendous effort on behalf of the so many supporters in the community we managed to make this the most attended Neighborhood Meeting in 1999, by far. The Haleiwa Surf Center was completely packed and people spilled out of the building. This meeting was covered by two local news stations, one with a live feed broadcast. Passions were exposed on both sides and the apathy of norm was absent for now. On this night threats were made against Deep Ecology for essentially initiating this grassroots movement. These threats entailed throwing a firebomb into our shop. This threat displays the mentality of many of those who oppose conservation for selfish reasons. As a company with unflinching commitment, these types of intimidation methods only serve to strengthen our resolve to protect the marine environment. the result of the meeting was that a task force were to be formed at a meeting one month later. Good or bad, the process was now officially reaching governmental levels. I personally was asked by our State Senator if I would be willing to serve on the task force and my response was "only if I know that it is legit. My main concern was that this task force, indeed make the strong recommendations necessary to affect real change for the better. We shall see..

Save Shark's Cove Task Force Appointment Meeting 
Aug. 11th, 1999
Sunset Beach Elementary School, North Shore Oahu
Previous to this meeting we had made many attempts to solicit help and feedback from other Oahu dive operations to protect Shark's Cove. With only two exceptions nobody wanted to know. The resentment I feel about the blatant apathy that the majority of operations here show is substantial. I repeat what I believe is our obligation as businesses that derive our incomes from the ocean; if there are problems out there; we are compelled to do something about it. In the case of Shark's Cove virtually none will say the area is o.k. most all agree the area has gone from bad to worse over the years and who should know better than the people like ourselves who use the area. Despite this the dive operators got together on a hastily arranged meeting two hours before task force delegates were to be chosen. Almost exclusively the interest was in preventing any loss of access to one of the dive operator's biggest cash cows. Preservation and conservation were not priorities. It was on this day that I decided that I would separate myself from this group that reflected capitalism and greed at the expense of the environment they operate in. We had sincerely tried to work with these operators and concluded that their interests lie elsewhere. This I am sure will change with time. So I ran as a conservation delegate and won. The commercial divers put up their status quo delegate who has played unimpressive lip service and disguises the real agenda, "keep our unimpeded access in tact!"

Save Shark's Cove Task Force Meeting #1
Sept. 8th, 1999
Waimea Valley, North Shore Oahu
Being the type of person who likes to get things done this meeting was less than satisfying. It was pretty much limited to what our charge was and the time frame of all things involved and I was beginning to think I was becoming part of the system I resent for its ineffectiveness. The crux of it was that there would be a planned five meetings over five months and after that we as a task force would make recommendations regarding any rules changes (see
Save Shark's Cove #1 ) to the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). From that a series of processes would occur that would likely take another year and a half. Bureaucracy in action! Our goal was to not only change the rules for the better but to expand the conservation area (MLCD) to more than triple its current size. Although we didn't accomplish much in my eyes there was some opportunity to meet our adversaries and find some common ground, so this was good. The agenda had been set for the next meeting and my hope was that this would allow for more productive movement. I was wrong.

Save Shark's Cove Task Force Meeting #2
Oct.13th, 1999
Waimea Valley, North Shore Oahu
Into this meeting I went with articles showing the problems in California and globally due to lack of marine protection. I also handed out our proposal to eliminate spearing, fishing, and netting in the MLCD and expand the area to over triple its current size while enveloping Waimea Bay. The meeting however was more about things we had no say in and I expressed my dissatisfaction more than once. I also urged that we move with more speed in order to prevent failure in our charge to address the issues of rules changes. I left this meeting highly frustrated but the agenda I had pushed for the next meeting seemed to be in place and perhaps we were now ready to accomplish something.

Save Shark's Cove Task Force Meeting #3
Nov.10th, 1999
Waimea Valley, North Shore Oahu

So here we were at the third of five scheduled meetings with virtually nothing accomplished in regards to the rules changes we were meant to decide on. Would this be the meeting to change that? Indeed it was. At this meeting I formally presented a written plan for expansion of the MLCD to over five times its current size in which it would envelope Waimea Bay, which is currently unprotected. Most important however was that finally we were going to talk about the issues. First was netting. Everybody agreed as I had hoped, that netting had no place in a so called "conservation district" and we agreed that it should be banned. Second was spear fishing and once again we all agreed that this also had no place in the area. We voted to ban it. Third, and most certainly the biggest question mark, was pole and line fishing. Everybody knowing the amount of turtles we had already saved from discarded fishing line definitely had an impact and only one real opponent made his objection. His reason was valid that many retired and otherwise low-income people use that area to subsidize their dinner plates. After just having witnessed thousands of fish removed from a Waimea Bay netter I was sympathetic to his statement. But the bottom line was that the North Shore had not one marine sanctuary and every inch of coastline was currently available for fishing. Based on this reality I felt we must set this one small area aside, for the future. In our plan to ban fishing however we proposed that the boundaries be changed slightly so that fishing could continue in one area of Shark's Cove but not within the MLCD itself. That way they would at least have one area left to fish while keeping the rules in the MLCD strict and easier to enforce. This proposition seemed to be unanimously accepted as reasonable but decision on this issue was delayed for further debate. Progress had been made and the next meeting we were to discuss expansion of the MLCD. This I was looking forward to.

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