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Marine Life & Conservation

Recent updates about the Shark situation in South East Asia



As we all know an approximate number of 100 million sharks are killed every year to support the demand for shark fin soup, mainly from countries in South East Asia.

In China the growing middle class are craving to eat this dish which was classified as a traditional wedding treat and served at state banquets; however, many Chinese hotels like Shangri-La has recently banned the soup  from their regular menu and many other high class restaurants in the neighboring countries are following suit.


Last week terrible news came from one of Hong Kong´s conservationists groups –  a whale shark factory was found that processed over 600 Whale Sharks annually. These giant animals are hunted not only because of their valuable fins but also for their liver. A shark liver can be a third of the size of a sharks body and the oil is an essential ingredient in the preparation of cosmetics like lipsticks and creams.

Alex Hofford and Paul Hilton of WildLifeRisk, the conservationists group that discovered the factory, said:

How these harmless creatures, these gentle giants of the deep, can be slaughtered on such an industrial scale is beyond belief, and all for human vanity; lipsticks, face creams, health supplements, shark fin soup restaurants. We firmly believe the trade must stop, and it must stop now, or else these animals will eventually face extinction.”

When resources run scarce, old battles resurface; China is again debating with surrounding countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei over South China Sea fishing rights.

China has imposed a new law that bans foreign vessels in “Beijing claimed areas” and the Philippines has said this is illegal and a serious threat to the peace in the area, since China claims almost the entire South China Sea as their own. The Philippines has tried to arbitrate under the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea) to make Chinas claim illegal.

Chinese official sources said “the fisheries conservation regulations had been issued and published by China since the 1980s. There was no reaction from the Philippines then and yet these are the very same rules that are being attacked today.”

To be continued….

In other areas in the Philippines, Marine Biologists are criticizing fisherman over their new method of making money; they are “hand feeding” whale sharks in order to attract tourists.

This practice has become highly popular, and since sightings of these giants is practically guaranteed, the fishermen can earn a lot more money and spend less time working too.

The Marine biologists claim this practice disturbs the whale shark’s natural behavior and increases disease and parasites, and they are conducting a study to observe the change over time.

These kind of stories where conservation only takes place when there is a demand or monetary interest will unfortunately become more common in the future.

But isn’t it better to have the whale shark hand fed than in whale shark fin soup?


 Indonesia has created the country’s first shark and manta ray sanctuary. Created at the beginning of 2013 and based in Raja Ampat, it’s the first in the Coral Triangle. 6 months later, Komodo with it´s 7,000 sq km has also joined other areas of Indonesia to protect its sharks and rays.

Indonesia is an important country because it’s one of the world’s biggest fisher and exporter of sharks, so the sanctuaries are extremely vital for the area and a good sign of a will to save wildlife for tourism (as sharks  and rays  bring in more for money alive then dead).

The Sultanate of Brunei has become the first Asian country to ban shark finning, effective from January 2014. Routine checks on establishments will be conducted to ensure the ban is followed.

The Sultan Hassanai Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah has banned the catch and landing of all shark species from the waters of Brunei Darussalam, as well as shark fin sales in the domestic market, and the importation and trade of shark products.

This is a law that has not even been achieved in countries like the United States, so for an Asian country this is very progressive.

Shark meat used to be sold at the market at very cheap prices, only the fins are more expensive and most of the times already sold before reaching the market.

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Photos taken before the implementation of the law for shark Finnning, Fish market,  Jerudong , Brunei Darussalam  in December 2013.

Neighboring areas to Brunei like Northern Sabah are trying to follow the steps of Brunei, but the Southern region of Sarawak is far from acknowledging this law. The general manager of the Protected Areas and Biodiversity Conservation Division Oswald Braken Tisen said recently:

“Not all sharks are protected species, and selling of shark’s fin and consuming it is still not against the law.”

The Shark experts’ opinions are unanimous: “Laws to restrict trade will mean little unless there are total bans on fishing.

After checking up on how the new law about shark protection is affecting the fish market in Jerudong in Brunei Darussalam, I attach these two pictures from the 6th of February.

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Sharks are still openly displayed on the counter, some still with their fins, and some guitar fish without fins. I have tried to reach the Ministry´s fisheries for a comment but they are still busy with Chinese New Year celebration and are proving difficult to reach.

I’ll try again next week….

Sylvia Jagerroos is a specialist in marine conservation and has spent the last two years working in the Maldives, a Country threatened by climate change and where the marine environment is directly linked to sustainable fisheries, renewable energy sources, tourism and a proper waste management system.

Marine Life & Conservation

Parineeti Chopra teams up with PADI to create Ocean Change



PADI® is thrilled to announce an exceptional PADI AmbassaDiver™: Indian actress, singer and PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Parineeti Chopra.

“A PADI AmbassaDiver is someone who is passionate about using their force for good to encourage others to protect our blue planet,” says Kristin Valette Wirth, Chief Brand and Membership Officer. “We could not have found a more respected and authentic partner as Ms. Chopra, a long time ocean lover, to advance our shared mission of saving the ocean. She is unmatched as a shining example of how to protect what you love – and inspire others to do the same.”

Chopra, who has always loved the ocean, experienced the magic beneath the surface in 2013 when she took her first breath underwater in Bali. As soon as she surfaced from that dive, she was hooked – and protecting the ocean became very personal for her, receiving her PADI Open Water Diver certification later that year in Palau. Since then, she has inspired others around the world, from her family and friends to fans in India– to try scuba diving so they can join her in seeking adventure and saving the ocean.

“The first time I came up to the surface after diving, I was crying because it was such a life-changing experience,” says Ms. Chopra. “It is now something I can’t live without. I make sure I do a diving trip every three months despite my work schedule because it is my form of meditation. And it is the place I am immensely passionate about protecting.”

“We are all equal underwater and all speak the same language. Over the years I have seen the changes that have taken place beneath the surface. During my time as a brand ambassador for Tourism Australia, I witnessed the bleaching and damage that has occurred to the Great Barrier Reef.  I was so sad to see this and am now committed to being a diver with a purpose. I have also seen first-hand how marine reserves, like the ones in Sipadan, Malaysia and Palau, prove how valuable marine protected areas are. As a PADI Diver, I want to make sure that our entire blue planet gets the protection it deserves.” continues Ms. Chopra.

With over 67 million social media followers and having recently starred in the Netflix movie The Girl on the Train, Chopra joins an elite group of celebrity influencers determined to take personal action and create real change for healthier oceans. Spending nearly all her free time diving around the world, Chopra shares her love for the ocean with her fans, as diving is an important part of her life that allows her to return to nature and reset. She will work with PADI to encourage others to experience the beautiful world underwater as PADI Divers and join her in helping to achieve balance between humanity and the ocean.

“PADI created the AmbassaDiver programmeme to support extraordinary divers who dedicate their lives to illuminating the path that leads from curiosity, exploration, and discovery to understanding, stewardship and action. Ms. Chopra is playing a very important role in ocean conservation, lighting the way for others to become divers themselves and mobilising communities worldwide to seek adventure and save the ocean with her,” continues Valette Wirth.

Ms. Chopra has big plans for 2022 – including becoming a real-life PADI Mermaid and taking part in citizen science projects during her dive trips around the world. Follow Chopra’s dive adventures, projects and hands-on conservation efforts with PADI on her Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

To learn more about Chopra and the rest of the PADI AmbassaDiver team visit

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Marine Life & Conservation

Ghost Fishing UK land the prize catch at the Fishing News Awards



The charity Ghost Fishing UK was stunned to win the Sustainability Award.

The winners were selected by a panel of industry judges and the award recognises innovation and achievement in improving sustainability and environmental responsibility within the UK or Irish fishing industries in 2021.

Nominees must have demonstrated a unique and innovative response to an environmental sustainability issue within the UK or Irish industry, demonstrating that the project has gone above and beyond standard practice, and provided evidence of its impact. The judges look particularly for projects that have influenced a significant change in behaviour and/or that have inspired broader awareness and/or engagement.

Ghost Fishing UK originated in 2015, training voluntary scuba divers to survey and recover lost fishing gear, with the aim to either return it to the fishing industry or recycle it. The charity is run entirely by volunteers and has gone from strength to strength, only last year winning the Best Plastic Campaign at the Plastic Free Awards.

Now, the charity has also been recognised at seemingly the opposite end of the spectrum. This is a unique achievement as trustee Christine Grosart explains;

We have always held the belief that working with the fishing industry is far more productive than being against it, in terms of achieving our goals to reduce and remove lost fishing gear.

The positive response to our fisheries reporting system that we received from both the fishing industry and the marine environment sector, was evidence that working together delivers results.

The feedback we got from the awards evening and the two-day Scottish Skipper Expo where we had an exhibit the following day, was that the fishing industry despises lost fishing gear as much as we do and the fishers here are very rarely at fault. It is costly to them to lose gear and they will make every effort to get it back, but sometimes they can’t. That is where we come in, to try to help. Everyone wins, most of all the environment. You can’t ask for much more.”

Following the awards, Ghost Fishing UK held an exhibit at the Scottish Skipper expo at the new P&J Live exhibition centre in Aberdeen.

This gave us a fantastic opportunity to meet so many people in the fishing industry, all of whom were highly supportive of our work and wanted to help us in any way they could. This has opened so many opportunities for the charity and our wish list which has been on the slow burner for the last 7 years, was exceeded in just 3 days. We came away from the events exhausted, elated, humbled, grateful and most of all, excited.”

Trustee and Operations Officer, Fred Nunn, is in charge of the diving logistics such as arranging boats and organising the divers, who the charity trains in house, to give up their free time to volunteer.

He drove from Cornwall to attend the awards and the exhibition: “What a crazy and amazing few days up in Scotland! It was awesome to meet such a variety of different people throughout the industry, who are all looking at different ways of improving the sustainability and reduction of the environmental impact of the fishing industry.

It was exciting to have so many people from the fishing industry approaching us to find out more about what we do, but also what they could offer. Fishermen came to us with reports and offers of help, using their vessels and other exhibitors tried to find ways that their product or service could assist in our mission.”

  • Ghost Fishing UK uses hard boat charters from Cornwall to Scotland for the diving projects, paying it forward to the diving community.
  • The charity relies on reports of lost fishing gear from the diving and fishing community and to date has received well over 200 reports, culminating on over 150 survey and ghost gear recovery dives, amounting to over 1000 individual dives and diver hours by the volunteer team members.
  • You can find more information at
  • If you are a fisher who knows of any lost fishing gear, you can report it to the charity here:
  • The charity is heading to Shetland for a week-long project in the summer of 2023. If you would like to support this project, please contact them at:

Chair of Ghost Fishing UK and professional technical diving instructor Dr Richard Walker was immensely proud of the team’s achievements;

I’ve been a scuba diver since 1991 and have met thousands of divers in that time. I’d be hard pushed to think of one of them that wasn’t concerned about conservation of our marine environment. To be recognised by the fishing industry for our efforts in sustainability is a huge honour for us, and has encouraged our team to work even harder to find, survey and remove lost fishing gear from the seas. The fact that the fishing industry recognises our efforts, and appreciates our stance as a group that wants to work alongside them is one of the highlights of our charity’s history, and we look forward to building the relationship further.

To find out more about Ghost Fishing UK visit their website here.

All images: Ghost Fishing UK

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Book and stay before the end of June and benefit from no single supplements in all room types!

Booking deadline: Subject to availability – book and stay before end of June 2022

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email

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