Footprints in the Sand
Whale Shark wins International Protection - Nations vote to protect world's largest fish.
November  15,  2002:   Parties  to  the  Convention  on  International  Trade   in Endangered Species (CITES) extended the first-ever international protection to a shark  species by  voting today to  protect the  whale shark  under  Appendix II. The  listing,  which  was  proposed  by  the  Philippines  and  India, gives  critical support to  whale shark  conservation  by regulating  trade in  whale shark parts. Whale  sharks are  primarily  threatened  by  over  fishing to supply  international trade.

"CITES  protection is  a major step  forward for  whale shark  conservation," said Elizabeth   Murdock,    Manager   of    WildAid's   Shark   Conservation   Program. "International  protection  is critical to  the conservation  of this  rare and  highly migratory  species.   CITES  can  now  do  its  much-needed  part  by  regulating international  trade and ensuring that trade does not  threaten the whale shark's
" ...... and the sea grants new dreams of hope." - Christopher Columbus

"hope alone is often not enough! Occasionally it needs a helping hand and a voice!" - Strike
While  demand  has been increasing  in  Taiwan, reported  whale  shark  catches there have  declined by 60-70% in  the past few years, leading  to unsustainable whale  shark  fishing  in  other areas  and  transforming  small,  subsistence-level fisheries into  large-scale efforts  supplying international trade.  In the Philippines and India, catches fell dramatically due  to over fishing before whale sharks were protected in these countries.  But recent confiscations of illegal shipments of the meat, bound for Taiwan and Hong Kong,  indicate that poaching remains a threat to this gentle giant.

The resolution  to include whale sharks  under Appendix II passed with 81 votes, achieving  the necessary two-thirds majority  by two votes.  The  basking shark, the second largest  living fish, was also  approved for Appendix II today, with 82 supporting votes.
"This listing  is  a  tremendous  victory,"  said Victor  Wu,  Shark  Campaigner  for WildAid. "The Parties  sent a clear message to the world today that whale sharks are far  more valuable alive  than dead-and  that their  future  depends upon our actions today."

Whale  shark tourism brings millions of dollars  annually to areas such  as Thailand (US$3  million;  Phuket  only),   Belize  (US$1.45 million)  and  Australia  (US$6.99 million),  all of  which  have  protected  the fish  in  local  waters.  These  annual revenues generate far more than a one-time catch of the scarce fish.

WildAid  is a leading  non-profit organization  dedicated to eliminating illegal trade in  threatened  wildlife  and   protecting  wildlife  habitat  through  effective  and sustainable solutions on a local and global scale. Headquartered in San Francisco, WildAid has offices  in Washington  D.C., London,  Vladivostok,  Bangkok,  Phnom Penh and the Galapagos Islands.

For further information on WildAid contact:
In Santiago: Elizabeth Murdock. E-mail: 
or, Victor Wu, Shark Campaigner, e-mail:
In San Francisco (USA): Peter Knights, Executive Director,
Sunday,  December  1st:   Thousands  gathered  in  Fremantle  to  spearhead  a Statewide  campaign  aimed  at  stopping  the  Mauds  Landing  development  at Ningaloo Reef.

Opposed  to development  on the  scale  proposed  for the  Mauds Landing  site, speakers  -  including  author, Tim  Winton  and  basketball  star,  Luc  Longley - warned the  Western Australia Premier of the potential electoral  backlash should the development proceed.

The latest proposal  from developer, Coral Coast - approved  conditionally by the Environmental  Protection  Authority in  November - includes 250  residential lots, about  1,000  private  rooms,  camping and  caravan sites  and an inland  marina.
Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2002

comprehensive  document  compiled  by  the   Australian  Institute  of  Marine Science, the, 'Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2002', edited by Clive Wikinson, offers both  good and bad news and  provides a meaty  insight into  what is being done - and  what  needs to  be  done - in order  to conserve  and protect  these natural assets.

For the detailed report, see the A.I.M.S. website at:
The whale shark is  the largest fish on Earth, reaching  up to 20 meters in length and  weighing  up  to  34 tons. It  feeds  by  filtering  plankton  and  other  small organisms  through  its gills, making  it one  of only three known species of large, filter-feeding  sharks. Whale  sharks  are  long-lived  (60  to 100 years), slow  to mature (at 30 years) and reproduce.

Whale shark  meat has recently  emerged  as  a delicacy  in Taiwan  the  world's largest  market for the meat. Annual  sales more than  doubled in  just two years from 1998 to  2000, while  demand for  shark fin soup  in Asia has also  increased pressure  on whale sharks: Their  huge fins, which  retail for thousands of dollars each, are  sold for  soup and  displayed  in  restaurants  in  Singapore, China and Taiwan.
Peter  Tagliaferri,  Mayor  of  Fremantle,  welcomed  the  crowd  and  later  said. "It was the biggest rally in living memory in Fremantle."

Speakers  delivered  the message that  the  community  would  not  accept  the marina  resort  and  would  take the  issue  to  the  next  election  if  necessary. Sustainable,  low-impact  development  was  advocated  as  an  achievable  and responsible alternative.

Tim Winton  said, "The Premier will  be in no doubt about the public mood on this issue.  It  was an awesome  display of  public feeling.  For  every  person  at the rally, we know that dozens more feel the same."

Simultaneously, people  gathered at the remote Ningaloo towns of Coral Bay and Exmouth.  Quiet at  this time of the year, the whole  town of Coral Bay gathered at  the proposed  site at  Mauds Landing and was  greeted  by the sight of giant manta  rays where  the seawalls  would be built.  Over two  hundred people also rallied in Exmouth. 
Campaign spokesperson, Paul Gamblin, said, "Action in  these towns today shows the overwhelming  support in the region for sensitive development  which will not harm the  environment.  After all,  that is what  underpins  the tourism industry."

For further information on the campaign to save Ningaloo Reef, visit their website at:

Nursery of artificial reefs in Pemuteran, Northwest Bali, Indonesia

Due  to  mounting  local  concerns  about  reef  deterioration,  Yos  W.K. Amerta, President of  Gahawisri  Bali (The  Bali  Branch  of  the  Indonesian  Association  of Watersports) and  owner of Yos  Diving  Centre and  Marine  Sports,  and  a  PADI International Resort & Retailer Associations member) invited Wolf Hilbertz and Tom Goreau from New York to  start restoration projects  in Bali.  This decision followed a workshop in coral reef restoration held at the Asian Dive Exposition in Bangkok in May 2000.

Twenty-two Biorock  coral nursery structures  have recently been  installed in the Pemuteran Village Marine Protected Area, in Northwest Bali.  Currently with a total length of 222 meters situated  in an area of 2 hectares, this is  the largest Biorock coral reef  nursery and  restoration project worldwide  and  exceeds the combined sizes of all  other  ongoing  projects in  the  Pacific, Caribbean  and  Indian Ocean.
The project, although  still in  its early  stages, already  has the  majority of  local coral  species  in   cultivation.  Their  enhanced   growth  rate,  reproduction  and resistance  to environmental stress  provides a  critical reservoir of healthy corals, (a  Coral  Reef Ark)  to  resist  future  hot  periods  caused by global  warming and restore damaged reefs and vital fishing  areas - once destructive human practices can be halted.

Bali's coral  reefs have been  severely damaged  in recent years due  to the use of bombs  and cyanide  by fishermen, excessively  high water  temperatures linked to global warming, and other stresses.

The Pemuteran  area is unique because  no other part of Bali has such large areas of shallow reef that are  accessible to divers and  snorkellers.  This is because the region  lacks the extremely  strong currents  and waves  that  characterize  other coastal  areas  of  Bali.  However,  Pemuteran  reefs  have  suffered  greatly  from damage by  destructive  fishing  because the  low  currents make  it far  easier for fishermen  to  retrieve  fish  that  are  killed  by  bombs  or paralyzed  by cyanide. Pemuteran village residents have taken action to prevent use of these destructive methods in  their reefs, whether  by locals or by  outsiders.  However, the amount of damage was so great that  action was urgently  needed to restore  reef habitat for tourism and fisheries.
Coral nurseries  built using the Electrolytic  Mineral Accretion Technology (Biorock) of Hilbertz and Goreau, provide unique advantages for restoring coral reefs.  Corals grown  on mineral accretion  are exceptionally  bright colored  and  rapid  growing, support  dense  fish   populations  and  are  more  resistant  to  all  environmental stresses except bombs and poisons.

The first projects in Indonesia were  built in the Pemuteran  Marine Protected Area in June 2000  by Hilbertz and Goreau, working  with Yos Amerta of Gahawisri. They were  located at  the front  of PADI International  Resort  &  Retailer  Associations facilities - Yos Diving Centre,  at Pondok Sari and Reef Seen Aquatics. Three more structures were  added in  October 2000 in front of  the Village Sea Temple during an  international training  workshop  on coral  nursery construction.  The workshop was funded by  a grant from the Leslie  Jones Foundation  to the Global Coral Reef Alliance's coral reef restoration  program and donations in kind from Yos Dive Shop and Hotel Pondok Sari.

The success of  these structures  in stimulating  rapid coral  growth was apparent within  months, leading  to  requests to  greatly  expand  the  project. Taman Sari Hotel donated further funds to support the  construction of new projects in March 2001.

For more information on how you can help with aquatic protection and conservation, visit 

Planet Scuba supports artificial reef project - Another PADI Project AWARE event successfully completed
PADI divers posing with the reef balls aboard the navy vessel KD Ketam before deployment.
Divers from Planet Scuba's 'Mega Dive - The 2nd Wave'
Under the banner of PADI's Project AWARE, Planet Scuba, a PADI 5-Star Instructor Development  Centre, in  Kuala Lumpur, together  with  ReefBall  Asia,  Marine Park Department and the  Malaysian  Armed  Forces, have  successfully deployed 4 reef balls in Pulau Dayang, off the coast of Johor in Malaysia.

The reef  balls, each weighing  about 250 kg,  are  state-of-the-art  reef  modules designed by  ReefBall Asia to provide  the same function as a natural coral. Named 'Planet  Reef', the reef  is the  first privately  sponsored artificial  reef of its kind in Malaysia  and is Planet Scuba's special  dedication to  all present and future lovers of the ocean.
A PADI  International Resort  and Retail  Associations  Member, training PADI scuba divers from  beginner to Instructor  levels, Planet Scuba  share The Project AWARE Foundation's worldwide efforts to preserve the underwater environment.

Says P.K. Chee,  Director of  Planet Scuba Sdn Bhd, "Project  AWARE encompasses our  environmental  awareness  and  protection  philosophy.  Through  our training, PADI divers will  learn the importance of  protecting fragile aquatic ecosystems and are encouraged to become actively involved in their preservation efforts."

For more  information on how  you can be  involved  with  their next special event, please contact Planet Scuba Sdn Bhd at

For details on how you can help with aquatic protection and conservation,