Goodbye 2011 from all at AfriOceans!
The Year in General: Though we at AfriOceans were fortunate to have one of our most successful years to date, 2011 was a tough year for many as a result of the economic climate, which some are saying is heading similarly to the 1930 Great Depression. It has caused a turmoil of despair and uncertainty worldwide. In addition, environmental catastrophes played havoc during the year and increasing environmental challenges remain on the increase. The outcomes of COP17 held in Durban, South Africa, which I went to, did little to ease our environmental concerns. Though a plan to cut emissions, which includes action by all major countries of the world, is planned, it is said to be nowhere near what is needed to avoid drastic catastrophes throughout this century and beyond.
Though we appear to have reached our sell-by-date for avoiding living in a microwave, there were many positive outcomes throughout 2011, in particular for sharks, driven by non-profits and activists, like ourselves.
Victory for Sharks Worldwide: In summary, there has been fantastic global success in the movement to ban the shark fin trade and increase shark protection in the USA, Canada, Taiwan, Chile, the Bahamas, the Marshall Islands, among other places, while China has proposed a shark fin ban in March.
Shame on South Africa: In comparison and back at home, however, despite our efforts through our WANTED! DEAD or ALIVE? campaign, and that South Africa became leaders of shark conservation when we were the first to fully protect the white shark, we are lagging pathetically behind. Our government continues to embarrass us when anglers make a mockery of the white shark protection and continue to catch and kill them, without being prosecuted. We, as marine and shark conservationists, lose all faith in our government to fulfill their mandate to protect our marine resources, and our shark population when our correspondence addressed to our Minister, offering our legal help, free of charge, to increase protection for numerous shark species, and our demands that perpetrators be prosecuted for breaking the law, are blatantly ignored.
They leave us no choice, and together with non-profits worldwide, and prominent shark conservationists, we will be launching a call to action that will shame our government in the eyes of the world. Do look out for it and please support it.
The AfriOceans Warriors: With our lobbying brewing in the background, amongst many other projects, we have kept our focus on making a difference through our AfriOceans Warriors Programme, funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund of South Africa. Our Environmental Education department, led by Terry Corr, has had an incredibly successful year during which we directly reached over 2000 learners and thousands more indirectly.
Awareness Campaigning: This is one of our fortes and this year saw further development of our Rethink the Predator campaign, as well as a new PSA which we will launch in the New Year. In addition, we move forward, albeit slower than I would like due to other overflowing NPO work, with a new campaign, as well as new documentary productions, which are still under wraps, and which I look forward to sharing with you in the New Year.
Thank you! Finally, nothing I do can be achieved without the help of many and for which I am filled with gratitude. When compiling this list I felt so blessed to be able to thank so many people for helping AfriOceans and me during 201l – THANK YOU! Beginning with our primary sponsor, the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund of South Africa who has made it possible for us to do the most amazing environmental educational work in the country through our AfriOceans Warriors Programme.
There’s also all those individual memberships and donations made to AfriOceans, thanks to all that made a contribution and to my many supporters for your ongoing emails and messages of support and help in various ways. Thanks to our in-kind sponsors such as Coral Wetsuits and Reef for my great dive suits, ScubaPro for my amazing dive gear, Divesite, Divestyle and African Diver magazines for free advertising, Roundbox for our website support and hosting, African Watersports for all those amazing boat trips with the sharks and sardine run trips, Marine Dynamics and White Shark Diving Co. for our white shark cage diving vouchers, and Pisces Divers for my local diving support and boat trips. Then there’s our partners such as the Two Oceans Aquarium and the City of Cape Town and our longstanding and ongoing partnerships, and other NPOs and groups we have teamed up with this year such as WESSA, Surfing South Africa, Surf Rider Foundation, ECO-UNESCO, Whale of a Heritage, GEESE, I AM SOMEBODY, Footprints, SRI, and our recent sponsorship from Mini South Africa, thanks to all!
Then a big thanks to all those conservationists I have worked with from all over the world – thank you for the collaboration and all your efforts and support. Last but most definately not least, to my wonderful, dedicated core team, Terry Corr, Charmaine Rochat, Adam Carnegie, and Bas van Tongeren, and a special thanks to Leonard Compagno – we’ve made a difference and next year will bring greater success, just watch us!
Wishing all a wonderful festive season and an even more wonderful 2012 with more love, respect and care for our beautiful oceans and sharks.
Watch my space!