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'Chum to view' better than 'chum to kill'


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POSTED: Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Did you know that right now it is legal to chum for sharks in Hawaii waters — so long as you are doing it to kill them? With all the buzz right now to ban shark “;viewing”; operations in Hawaii, I'm curious why no one is talking about banning shark “;killing”; operations.

Councilman Charles Djou has recently proposed Bill 67. This bill notes “;sharks have great cultural, historical and spiritual significance for many native Hawaiians.”; It also says shark operators “;may be disruptive of ocean ecology and the natural environment.”;

With everyone in agreement that sharks are of great importance to the Hawaiian people, I'm wondering why there is no verbiage in this bill that talks about the actual killing of sharks in Hawaii waters.

Ever since this bill came to fruition, I've been thoroughly confused on two of its main points. How can the act of bringing tourists to view sharks be more disrespectful to the species than killing them? And how are snorkelers more disruptive to the “;ocean ecology and the natural environment”; than fishermen and the long-lining industry?

Many proponents of this bill claim that chumming the waters offshore to view sharks will bring more of them in to the beaches where people surf and swim — even though this belief has already been proved wrong, scientifically, by Carl Meyer at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology.

Why aren't those same people complaining about the fishermen chumming for sharks? What is the difference? I've chummed and filmed sharks all over the world and would gladly give up that activity for my profession if it meant that fishermen had to as well.

If Bill 67 is going to be voted on, it must have an inclusion making it illegal for fishermen to chum for sharks as well.

Right now there is a worldwide spotlight on the state of Hawaii and how we will handle this issue. Therefore, if it is indeed “;disrespectful to the aumakua”; in Hawaii and “;disruptive to the ocean ecology”; to “;view”; sharks in their natural environment, let's push our elected officials to be leaders and think twice about the senseless slaughter of one of the ocean's greatest animals in our own back yard. In honor of the greatest aumakua, if we are to ban the “;chum to view”; activity, we must ban the “;chum to kill”; practice as well.

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Bryce Groark owns Living Ocean Productions of Hilo, an underwater imaging and production business.