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Immediate ICCAT ban needed to save endangered Mako Sharks

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Scuba Divers and Marine Scientists Call on International Fisheries Managers to Act Now and Prevent North Atlantic Population Collapse

In a shared effort to highlight growing public concern for declining shortfin mako shark populations, local conservation group, Save the Med, and global marine conservation non-profit, Project AWARE®, are bringing the voices of more than 25,000 concerned ocean enthusiasts from around the world to the attention of fisheries managers ahead of critical decisions taking place at the meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) – 18-25 November – in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

“Years of inaction to protect declining mako sharks is increasingly a cause for worry among the public, in general, and the dive community, in particular. We are here today to urge fisheries managers to acknowledge our concerns and heed scientific advice for makos, before it’s too late. One thing is clear to us all: postponing action is no longer an option. It’s high time to shift the focus from short-term economic interests to the long-term sustainablity of marine ecosystems.” says Brad Robertson, Save the Med Foundation Co-Founder.

This week, at their 26th Regular Meeting, member governments of ICCAT are considering fishing restrictions to protect Atlantic shortfin mako sharks. Since 2017, ICCAT scientists have advised that landings from the seriously overfished North Atlantic population should be banned and have warned that the unprotected South Atlantic population is at risk for following the same path.

Spanish fleets consistently land more makos than any other country. Despite repeated warnings about mako overfishing, the EU has failed to propose the scientific advice at ICCAT meetings or even limit set an EU limit on mako catches. Progress for mako conservation at this week’s ICCAT meeting depends on the European Union reconsidering its stance and instead supporting the limits that scientists advise.

“The population assessments made by scientists are clear: North Atlantic mako sharks are facing collapse and a ban is needed to turn the tide. We need to start thinking of makos like we do other endangered species, such as sea turtles or monk seals.  Makos are still present in the market and on our tables; we’re still eating them! It must stop,” comments Gabriel Morey, Save the Med Foundation Co-Founder.

In August, the EU co-sponsored a successful proposal to list mako sharks on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).  As a result, CITES Parties will soon be required to demonstrate that mako exports are sourced from legal, sustainable fisheries. The IUCN classified makos as Endangered on the IUCN Red List in March.

Project AWARE and its Shark League coalition partners have appealed to fisheries and environment authorities in all ICCAT Parties to work together to ensure scientific advice is immediately heeded, in line with government obligations under both ICCAT and CITES. More than 25,000 divers and ocean enthusiasts who added their voice to Project AWARE’s #Divers4Makos petition are backing the Shark League appeal.

“Fisheries Ministers making decisions at ICCAT are all public servants, and we want to ensure that they hear, loud and clear, the message that the international dive community, including over 25,000 #Divers4Makos supporters: protect mako sharks NOW!” adds Ian Campbell, Project AWARE Associate Director Policy and Campaigns.

For more info, please visit: www.projectaware.org

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Diving below the waves of the Western Cape, South Africa – Long Beach at night (Watch Video)

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Head under the waves of False Bay and explore the incredible diversity that is found along the Western Cape. The bay has popular dive spots from diving amongst the biodiverse underwater kelp forests to jumping in with the playful and friendly cape fur sealions (Arctocephalus pusillus). The bay along with the rest of the South Africa coast is known for the range of shark species that are found from the shallow coastal shores out into the open oceans. The coast is also home to numerous endemic shark species such as puffadder shyshark (Haploblepharus edwardsii) and Pyjama shark.

Longbeach is a shallow shore dive close to the coastal town of Simonstown on the Western Cape. The dive is mainly made up of diving across the sand with a few wreckages, rocks and outcrops where there’s algae growing. A pipeline can be found at the site which provides locations for species such as Pyjama Sharks (Poroderma africanum) and octopus (Octopus vulgaris) to shelter. Diving at night at the site provides the opportunity to see species that are more often hidden during the day such as cape Squid (Loligo reynaudii) and Biscuit Skate (Raja straeleni). Other shark species such as the small Puff Adder Shyshark (Haploblepharus edwardsii) are also occasionally seen at the site.

Diving with the local dive club – Cape Town Dive Centre.


Follow Jake aka JD Scuba on the YouTube channel @Don’t Think Just Blog.

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Book Review – The Final Dive: The Life and Death of ‘Buster’ Crabbe (2007)

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It was the height of the Cold War. The Soviet Cruiser Ordzhonikidz, supported by two destroyers, had brought Soviet leaders Khruschev and Bulganin to Britain for sensitive meetings with the British Government. The ships were moored in Portsmouth harbour and the Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden, had expressly forbidden any clandestine inspection of them. However, on the morning of 19th April 1956 Commander Lionel ‘Buster’ Crabbe, an experienced naval diver, slipped into the cold waters of Portsmouth harbour. His top secret mission was to photograph the hull, propellers and rudder of the Ordzhonikidze. He was never seen alive again.

A badly decomposed body, with head and hands missing, was discovered by fishermen in Chichester harbour months later. It was claimed to be the missing body of Buster Crabbe – but many had doubts. The incident marked the start of a controversy that claimed the posts of several high ranking naval, government and intelligence service personnel. The author of The Final Dive, Don Hale, claims it is one that still rages and which may not be resolved even when secret government files are released in 2057.

Don Hale, an acknowledged campaigning journalist and former Journalist of the Year brings all his experience and skill to unravelling this longstanding scandal. He has drawn upon official reports and private letters, statements from government representatives, fellow officers and friends to piece together Buster’s life and events leading to his disappearance and subsequent investigation. He speaks of “inquiries blocked by intrigue, constant cover-ups and government bureaucracy coupled with threats relating to the Official Secrets Act” (p. xi). If you like reading about subterfuge on a grand scale you will enjoy The Final Dive.

Don Hale’s meticulous account of the life of Buster Crabbe is supported by dozens of black and white photos and extracts from numerous official documents. It reveals how an amazing series of civilian jobs, wartime activities and friendships with high ranking government officials, British intelligence officers, American CIA operatives. . . and now known spies, prepared him for his final dive and perhaps his fate. One of Crabbe’s acquaintances was the author Ian Fleming – of James Bond fame. Indeed, it is suggested that Fleming based the character of 007 on Buster Crabbe. After reading of his exploits, both before WWII, his bomb disposal work during the war, and afterwards it is easy to see why. Certainly, those who worked with Buster Crabbe “all agree he was fearless.” (p.59). After reading of his exploits one wonders if he was too fearless.

In the later stage of Buster’s life, prior to his disappearance, Don Hall recounts “a constant merry-go-round of overseas assignments” (p. 118) for Crabbe and how he “began to receive increasingly hazardous commissions” (p. 136). It culminated in the morning dive in Portsmouth harbour. Hale’s forsensic-like account of the events surrounding the final dive and aftermath reveals absolute panic and bungling behind the scenes as official answers conflict with known facts. He describes how “The whole incident still seems bathed in secrecy, with the true facts deliberately buried in bureaucracy, and supported at the highest level by an incredible cover-up operation”.(p. 205).

A final comment by Don Hale adds to the intrigue. He states “The only part of the Crabbe puzzle about which I am not certain is not who sent him – we know the answer to that – but why on earth he was he sent, possibly at considerable risk?” (p. 248). After reading The Final Dive: The Life and Death of ‘Buster’ Crabbe you will no doubt have your own ideas.


The Final Dive: The Life and Death of ‘Buster’ Crabbe (2007)

  • By Don Hale
  • Stroud: Sutton Publishing
  • ISBN 978 0 7509 4574 5
  • 260 pp

Don Hale was a professional footballer before becoming editor of several regional newspapers. He has received numerous national and international awards for investigative journalism including Journalist of the Year. In 2002 he was awarded an OBE for his campaigning journalism in the Stephen Downing miscarriage of justice case. He has championed several others who have been wrongly convicted.

His other books include Town without Pity (2002), Murder in the Graveyard (2019) and Mallard: How the ‘Blue Steak’ Broke the World Speed Record (2019).


Find out more about Professor Fred Lockwood, who is also a published author, at www.fredlockwood.co.uk.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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