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Galapagos National Park Dive Permit Impacts


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#41 chadbeck

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 04:56 AM

What Scubagirlz is saying is correct only the aggressor and ph boats are going to wolf and darwin for the time being. As for the scuba iguana I looked into a land based option in case my trip doesn't work out and this is what I got back from them.....This is from july 26th
"We received confirmation today that the live aboards won’t be allowed to offer diving itinerary; you’ll find attached a document form one of the co owners of Scuba Iguana explaining the context of the situation."

Here is the letter....

"This is Jack Nelson writing to you. I am one of the partners in Scuba Iguana. I have worked in tourism in Galápagos since 1967. I have been very active in much of the process of writing the legal framework for life and business in the islands, and can assure you that it is a bewildering array of vagaries, ambiguities, contradictions and legal voids. Historically, there has always been an ebb and flow of corruption in authorities and the establishment of legal precedent and custom. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Aside from that, typically the bureaucratic authorities have no experience or interest in understanding the realities of business, and expect to dictate according to their interpretations. Bureaucracies have wide discretionary powers. Any possible explanations of this shifting playing field are necessarily simplified.

It is always difficult to explain to someone from far away, why things happen like they do here. Often I think of the official decision process like it is a Mexican Piñata. Give it a whack and see what falls out.

Scuba diving has been part of the business for the “Daphne” yacht operations for as long as I can remember. IMAX used the “Daphne” as the dive base and mother ship for the famous Galápagos movie. “Daphne” is not an improvised start-up.

The “Ley Orgánica para la Conservación y Desarrollo Sustentable de la Provincia de Galápagos” (LOREG) translated roughly as “Special Law for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Province of Galápagos” has specific language protecting the acquired rights of tourism operations existing before the LOREG. These articles affirm the Constitutional protections of acquired rights, as no law can be retroactive. This affirmation written into the LOREG was fought for by us Galápagos residents, as the Constitution had already been reformed to allow restriction of certain rights if necessary to protect the natural environment.

Subsequent to the LOREG is the RETANP, basically the Tourism Regulation. The original draft of the RETANP was written by Galápagos residents, a consensus very carefully worked out to comply with higher laws, without ambiguities or contradictions or bad grammar or technical inconsistencies, and designed to implement the idea that the local population must be involved in the tourism business in order that we would see conservation to be in our interest. It included the start of the mechanism for moving fishermen into tourism. Unfortunately, that document by law had to be vetted and approved by the Ministry of Environment and signed by the President. Nine months later we received a much modified mess, already signed into law. Four years later it is still floundering, only partially applicable. It is a bad regulation, causing rather than resolving conflict among the Park, existing operators, the fishermen, and the burgeoning population. The latest Director of the National Park has gone on a warpath of arbitrary application of the RETANP, interpreting willy-nilly as she goes. Effectively, each inhabited island has a different mix of regulation, according to the local political weight of the Park and the animosity and activism of the population.

One element in the socio-political mix has been the poorly controlled expansion of unsustainable fisheries since around 1993. As a group, the fishermen have formed a political party which dominated the islands’ institutions under the Presidency of Lucio Gutierrez, who was overthrown for egregious corruption. This party came into being after the fishermen had already gained many concessions by intimidation, after looting Park offices on Isabela and other similar actions. The theorists of the National Park and supporting environmentalist groups have hit on the idea of changing the fishermen into tourist operators, and since many of them are already empirically experienced hookah divers (with a shockingly high accident and mortality rate) it seemed a brilliant notion to set aside scuba operations for them. This cleaving of the business is supposedly justified by the lack of a separate diving regulation.

One of the first decrees of our new President Rafael Correa (inaugurated in January) was to recognize the chaos and emergency here, brought on by years of mismanagement and special interest groups. Correa is a passionate and forceful and even capricious character. He demands quick action. Even increasing the pressure is the subsequent UNESCO declaration of Galápagos as an Endangered Human Heritage. This is the context of the National Park abrogation of contracts, without consideration of the affected clients and businesses"

#42 onderwaterfoto

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 05:12 AM

We are scheduled for October on the Lammerlaw (including Darwin and Wolf). Our Dutch tour operator, specialized in dive trips, is trying to get an official statement. But this is what we got so far...

Dear,

I cannot explain the frustration that we have with the Galapagos National Park (GNP) timings. Yesterday, we received a communication that we would not be receiving a response. Due to this explanation which for us is unacceptable, our General Manager traveled to the Galapagos today to try and personally meet with the Park authorities. We are pressuring the GNP from every side that we can because it is ridiculous that they give us certain deadlines which are never respected. I hope to have some information for you in the next few days and as I previously mentioned, we are doing everything possible to try and obtain an answer from the GNP.

We apologize that the GNP does not understand the pressure we tourism operators have concerning timings.

With best regards,
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#43 Brumpy

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 12:13 PM

just got this mail.


Amigos,

I just had Dolores from Quasar and my guides Jonathan and Santiago on the phone for more than 30 minutes !!

It seems that there are more than 50 fishing boats, from the city of Manta, in Wolff and Darwin on the days that Aggressor and Sky dancer are not there.

The GNP and the President Correa are completely corrupt and did declare W and D shark fishing grounds.

Adios to the sharks of Galapagos ………..

A shame !

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#44 loftus

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 01:11 PM

One theory, is that limiting dive boats, will actually mean fewer boats around in certain areas such as Darwin and Wolf to 'observe' fishing activities. According to this theory, it is actually the fishing interests that are trying to limit dive activity. If you think about it, dive boats probably probably stress the environment a lot less than other boats that predominantly do land trips - where most of the environmental stress due to tourism occurs. While we were doing a land trip at Santiago island, there was a moderately sized cruise ship, probably carrying a couple of hunded passengers, these boats and the foot traffic they bring to the islands are far more damaging to the environment. And who do you think the cruise ship belonged to? It belongs to the head of the GNP! Talk about the fox in the hen coup.

I refer to my quote earlier on this thread - your comment gives credence to this theory
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#45 Scuba_SI

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 04:36 PM

just got this mail.
It seems that there are more than 50 fishing boats, from the city of Manta, in Wolff and Darwin on the days that Aggressor and Sky dancer are not there.


I wouldn't count myself as a particularily sensitive soul, but that brings tears to my eyes.

Something beginning with W and sounding like anchors.

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#46 wagsy

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 05:57 PM

If that is true then we are truly living in a sad world.

Does not take a rocket scientists to realize that if you keep taking all the Mummy and Daddy sheep and their Lamb's out of a paddock you eventually have no more. :)
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#47 loftus

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 03:15 AM

More smelly stuff
http://www.iht.com/a...an-Expelled.php
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#48 danclem

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 07:08 AM

I am not quite ready to buy into the conspiracy theory, and it appears the Herald Tribune article is not quite accurate. See the Sea Shepherd story: http://www.seashephe...a_070806_1.html . It looks like Sean O'Hean was allowed to remain in the country.

If the agreement where Sea Shepherd works with the Ecuadorian authorities is voided, then I would get quite concerned.

Cheers.
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#49 John Bantin

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 11:17 AM

Tercero Mundo!

I buy my own photographic kit. Diving equipment manufacturers and diving services suppliers get even-handed treatment from me whether they choose to advertise in the publications I write for or not. All the equipment I get on loan is returned as soon as it is finished with. Did you know you can now get Diver Mag as an iPad/Android app?

 

#50 danclem

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 12:28 PM

Once again, I am not sure this is limited to third world countries. In the US we have top oil execs meeting with the Vice President to formulate energy policy, in the UK I believe Blair is being accused of funneling money to Labor, and in Australia hasn't PM John Howard been accused of bribing Saddam Hussein to help wheat exports?

Lo mismo in cada pais.
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#51 shawnh

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 07:23 PM

This breaks my heart. I predicted this as soon as I heard about the limits on dive boats. And so it goes....:)
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#52 writepic

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 05:48 AM

i've been following this fairly closely and o'hearn was allowed to stay in ecuador, he has residency rights which the president didn't realize when he ordered him out of the country. he also has a wife and child (ecuadorean) and so was allowed to stay. he is allowed to 'report' any incident to the police which he feels is in contradiction to current law, but is not allowed to get involved in any raids himself.

i would take everything with a pinch of salt at this moment in time. an article in the guardian claimed that shark fins were piling up on piers (jettys) in ecuador since correa lifted this ban, and manta saw a daily landing of 400 sharks. for a start there are no piers in ecuador, the pangas land right on the sand, and 400 sharks in manta was normal one, two, three, and four years ago.

i was filming there back in january and the amount of sharks beached daily really did bring tears to my eyes. what has happened in recent weeks is shocking, and probably has made things a lot worse, but lets not put grave stones on the shores just yet, and if i hear one more person say shark vacant waters in ecuador are inevitable i will shit myself.

we need to up the ante, not sit down and weep. get writing, protesting, campaigning, whatever you need to do, put pressure on your MP's or senators or whatever they are called in the US and make something happen. write to your restaurants, tv chefs, talk to everyone about it. make a change happen.

rant over. whingeing and moaning is not an option.

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#53 shawnh

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 10:27 AM

Mark,

Right on! Way to stay the course. How do folks in this forum get accurate information on what is going on. Is there anyone (not on the mafia payrol) actually monitoring Wolf and Darwin right now? I know they sent planes to ensure that no 'illegal' dive operators were staying there. Are they doing the same for fishing boats?

Thanks for the hard work on this.
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#54 scubamarli

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Posted 12 August 2007 - 08:37 PM

Forgive me if I missed something, as I've away in the Solomons, but just heard that one of the charters without an "official permit" did operate as a dive charter and did dive Wolf and Darwin last week. I had close friends on board. Most that booked had cancelled, but as they did not have insurance, they went anyway, and it worked out at the last minute.

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#55 hoovermd

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 05:27 AM

...we need to up the ante, not sit down and weep. get writing, protesting, campaigning, whatever you need to do, put pressure on your MP's or senators or whatever they are called in the US and make something happen. write to your restaurants, tv chefs, talk to everyone about it. make a change happen...


Since this seems to be all about fishing it seems that that industry would be the most useful to target.
I'm assuming that we can do little WRT the finning issue but des antone have any info on which markets and restraunt chains purchase significant amounts of fish form these fishermen?

Maybe a financial boycott? Also perhaps some PR campaign showing the Cruise ship passengers the stacke of fins or such could work as well?

It may be a futile attempt but....
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#56 pmooney

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 06:02 AM

I had a guy in today - checking out his new video camera and housing for his pending galapagos expedition on the peter hughes boat - seems like a tough environment for the operators to maintain commercially viablity.

#57 Scubagirlz

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 01:17 AM

So by the way.. which boats are allowed to do daily-diving-trips (not-liveaboard)... or better said...are doing daily-diving-trips? All the yachts that had several days itinerary are still doing it but without the diving option or not going out anymore ... supposably... right?

#58 Plyschmannen

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 03:26 AM

I just got a mail from exploradiving which I was supposed to go diving with on August 26:th, that they are definitely canceling my trip, and it might take up to 4 months before they can resume operations with new regulations. Major bummer, since I originally chosen Galapagos for the diving. Well, I'm going anyway, but without the diving, and a week to kill on Galapagos with no place to stay.

On the same note, is it worth it do to land based diving, how much does it cost, and does that kind of diving still going on at Galapagos? I was supposed to haul my gear over, but I really don't want to do this unless I know that I will be diving, and if I only do a few dives, its most likely not worth the hassle. This is not photo gear I'm talking about, but BCD, reg, fins, mask etc.

Last one, just to check, it doesnt happend to be any opening on any of the 3 boats that are going out to Darwin/Wolfs around the 26:th of August? If so, I'm *very* interested.

/Björn

#59 danclem

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 07:37 AM

Hi Björn:

It is definitely worth while to dive via land based operators. A lot of people think it is preferable since you can see some of the amazing land based flora and fauna the islands have to offer. We spent a week diving and a week on a small ship island hopping.

In July we dove with Scuba Iguana, and they were great. Their URL is: http://www.scubaiguana.com/. There is also a great new hotel in Puerto Ayoro called the Solymar. It is fantastic.

We dove in the Floreana, Gordon Rocks, Beagle Rocks, North Seymour arears, and swam after mola mola, whales, and dolphins off of Isabela and Espanola. The down side is we missed Wolf and Darwin, but the up-side was we were able to spend a lot of time exploring and photographing flora and fauna on the islands.

Because of weight restriction I took regulator, mask, computer, hood, and gloves, and rented the remaining gear. It was Scuba Pro and fine. It was about $50 US per day for a two tank dive. Night dives are in Academy Bay.

There seem to be a lot of people on Wetpixel who recommend not bringing strobes: I brought one and would highly recommend taking one. We saw everything from hammerheads to Galapagos sharks, to three different species of rays, to sea lions, tropicals, mola mola, Galapagos penguins, several different eels, tuna, turtles, and on and on. There are strong currents and surge, but it is quite managable.

As spectacular as the diving and underwater photography are, the above water geology and animal photography is even better. It is really a unique part of the world.

Go and have a great trip!

Dan

Edited by danclem, 15 August 2007 - 07:51 AM.

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#60 Plyschmannen

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 11:44 AM

Thanks for the reply Dan. I am doing non-diving cruising for a week before my supposedly diving trip, so I'm getting lots of nature/animal opportunities.

What you describes sounds great, no doubt better then nothing. I'm still curious if you can do this kind of diving now, or if it has been banned too. Also wonder if you can just stroll in and book your stuff, day to day, or if you need to do these things in advance. I don't have much time left, and esp since I'm sitting in a hotel in Germany with no real access to a descent phone I don't know if it will be worth the hassle to try to do some booking or just try to work something out when in Galapagos.

I'm bringing my 1d3 and 30d, but not any housing, so I will only do topside photography.

I have been switching back and forth between hope and despair, and on what to bring, but I think I will go with my mask + snorkel, fins, booties, reg + dive computer. Fins + socks because I really easy get sores from normal non-booties fins, and I'm hoping we are going to do some snorkeling on our non-scuba boat.

/Björn