Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Wednesday, October 20, 1999

Managing sharks
has high potential

I was shocked to find out that Hawaii was dead last of all the Pacific states in shark management, mainly because I didn't even know that sharks had to be managed.

I always assumed sharks were the upper management of the ocean world, kicking butt wherever they saw fit. That included gnawing on the occasional swimmer, although I suspect that sharks enjoy chewing on people the way I would enjoy chewing on a raw shark fin.

But the National Audubon Society recently issued a report rating shark management in Hawaii, Oregon, California, Alaska and Washington. Hawaii got the worst score because of all the sharks killed around the islands.

This just isn't fair. First of all, why is the Audubon Society worrying about sharks? Shouldn't it be taking care of birds? Maybe it can't attract as much in donations by issuing reports on lost parakeets as it can by issuing reports on sharks.

In the environmental world, sharks are sexy. They used to be considered ruthless predators that were better dead then fed. Now we are told that they actually are misunderstood gentle creatures who occasionally and inadvertently snatch a hapless sunbather off an inflatable raft because he or she resembles a turtle. It's cool to be concerned about sharks now, so the Audubon Society has forsaken its feathered friends for the bad boys of the deep.

Of course, the other Pacific states are going to look good when it comes to sharks because very few of their residents ever get eaten by one. You don't have a bunch of tourists chumming the water off Anchorage yelling, "Here sharky sharky!" But in Hawaii, thousands of potential sunburned meals bob around like a continual shark buffet.

Yeah, a lot of sharks are killed in Hawaii but the sharks have done pretty well themselves. One got a good taste of a Big Island surfer just a few weeks ago, for instance.

But if shark management is as important as the Audubon Society says it is, I want to do my part. I've come up with a plan that will make Hawaii's sharks the best-managed major ocean predators in the world.

First, if you are going to be a serious player in an enterprise involving the savage consumption of other species, you need a good public presence. A dynamic Internet site is the way to go. I picture one called that would give box scores in the sharks vs. humans competition. Sure, on paper, people are winning. People kill thousands of sharks per year. But sharks grab a lot more headlines. All a shark has to do is consume one important human, like a bishop or an underworld figure and, bam! he's on the front page.

After the Web site takes off, we will officially incorporate all of Hawaii's sharks. We'll have a shark CEO and an entire shark board of directors.

Then, we'll file a class-action lawsuit against all those fishermen who hack the fins off of sharks and sell them for soup. With that money, we'll file with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering. That's right, we'll sell stock. We'll launch our IPO on the Nasdaq, not the Dow, because the Nasdaq is where all the hot new predators hang out.

After several stock splits, we'll start preying on other shark companies, gobbling them up like they were guppies. In the end, we'll be a multi-oceanal conglomerate managing every shark on Earth.

The Audubon Society will rue the day that it accused Hawaii sharks of being mismanaged. One day, will have the little birdie group for breakfast.

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802
or send E-mail to or

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