Monday, September 21, 2009

Desperate Plea from Stefanie

Hi Everyone, I know many of you may not know who I am, but for those of you that do, I need your help!

By now most of you have heard about the proposed shark tour ban on Oahu. What happens in the next three weeks will make the difference of me staying in business or being shut down for good.

A bill was drafted by the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood board and submitted to City Council to ban shark tour operations in all of Oahu. The details of the bill basically would prevent us from having an office, from selling tickets, advertising etc. If the council votes for the ban, it would come into effect immediately.

Now it comes down to sheer numbers. The council needs to see that there are many supporters of the shark tour operations. Each opinion will count and may change the way a council member will vote in the end.

Here are a few issues:

- How can they justify killing two businesses that employ more than 30 people and that support their families with this income?

- Why do they want to kill a tourist attraction that brings more than 40,000 tourists to Haleiwa each year? (which translate into millions of dollars to the Oahu tourism industry in hotel rooms, meals, shopping, rental cars etc)

- How can they continue to ignore the facts, science, studies and all the data we have supplied to them? The Hawaii Kai group just continues to state that they don't want to believe the facts and that their assumptions and beliefs override all data.

- Banning an activity based on the fears and believes of a very small group is outrageous and a giant step backwards in progress.

The shark tours are beneficial to the economy, the community and the environment. Jobs and money for Haleiwa. Happy tourists. Sustainable practice. (Viewing sharks is sustainable, fishing for them is not, yet, that is allowed without restrictions), no incidents in 9 years of operation, a peer reviewed and published scientific study that established that the tours are not a public safety hazard and that the numbers of sharks are not altered.... what exactly is the problem? What else do we have to do to prove to them that this is a good thing!

Apparently there is not enough data in this world to change their minds.

But I need all the help and support I can get from anyone that feels that this is not right.



Here is how you can help.

A) Please send an email to the council members expressing your support of the shark tour and your disapproval of the ban. If you want help with formulating arguments or want to know more details, please call me. My number is 778-6740.

B) The next reading will be on Oct.7 or 8, during the next City Council meeting. The public is invited. I need to show up with an army of people. Usually nobody goes to these meetings. If you can, or know of someone that can attend, please let me know. I will confirm the date and post another update.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Stefanie

Here is the contact information for all the council members, plus the mayors office.

Todd K. Apo
tapo@honolulu.gov

Donovan M. Dela Cruz
dmdelacruz@honolulu.gov

Ikaika Anderson
ianderson@honolulu.gov

Charles K. Djou
cdjou@honolulu.gov

Ann Kobayashi
akobayashi@honolulu.gov

Rod Tam
rtam@honolulu.gov

Romy M. Cachola
rcachola@honolulu.gov

Gary H. Okino
gokino@honolulu.gov

Nestor R. Garcia
ngarcia@honolulu.gov

Mufi Hanneman
mayor@honolulu.gov

Click below (or copy the addresses) to send an e-mail to all of them:

apo@honolulu.gov, dmdelacruz@honolulu.gov, ianderson@honolulu.gov, cdjou@honolulu.gov, akobayashi@honolulu.gov, rtam@honolulu.gov, rcachola@honolulu.gov, gokino@honolulu.gov, ngarcia@honolulu.gov, mayor@honolulu.gov

If you need council member info:

http://www.whysharksmatter.com/join.asp

5 comments:

Brazilian Ray said...

hey Steff, I wrote this comment on your web page and I hope you got it...

A ban on shark tours is just plain ridiculous!
I started surfing and diving at age 11 in Brazil. By the age of 16 I was already a diving instructor and avid freediver/spearfisherman, spending many hours in the water. It was not until I was 19 I'd face a shark in the wild and that encounter would change my life...
We all grow up with the media telling us they [the sharks] are man eaters. This misconception creates a natural fear for the animal and your reaction to just a thought of being in the water with one shark can cause discomfort. After holding my breath and gently starting my descend I see a fish coming my way, so I stoped before reaching the bottom hoping it is going to be a catch. At the moment I realized that the "big fish" swimming at me was not just a regular fish, but a shark, I got nervous but decided to stay there, looking at the "beast" coming to "eat me". It was tense but it didn't! I felt so small as it just circled me, just doing it's own thing on his own house (the ocean) and swam away. I felt soooo relieved and realized it was the most beautiful animal I have ever seen in the water! It is an empowering experience to meet the top of the food chain animal on it's own house and terms. It swam and acted like he owned the place (doesn't it, anyways?): I was not on his menu for lunch and it swam so gracefully by me that caught my attention for ever, it was THE coolest thing I had seen and I realized I really liked the sharks.
I am now 34. I have been with many sharks many times and I have great respect for them. I have seen the degradation of the oceans and even though I still freedive, I don't spearfish anymore because there is less and less fish at the places where we used to catch plenty! That first encounter empowered me to respect the ocean and it's inhabitants. It made me aware we're not alone in this planet and how important it is to coexist! the shark tours provide a safe environment where anybody can face the top predator of the ocean and hopefully learn to respect it like I do. This is an incommensurable lesson that can only be experienced in their element: the water. It would be a shame to loose this service to the planet because of bad politics and NO real information.
I have been at the tours a few times and enjoyed every second of it! I recommend it to all my family, friends visiting Hawaii and local friends alike. I enjoy the ocean end respect it more because I have been there with them and can't understand WHY someone would want to shut down such operation, where not only many people benefit from it but also the oceans itself and it's inhabitants!

Aloha, see you in the water!

Raimar "Brazilian Ray" Bylaardt
diver, freediver, kitesurfer, surfer and ocean lover

Anonymous said...

Steph,

I'll help out in any way I can. I first read about this a few days ago and was shocked. I thought, "why don't we do away with all the whale tours", " compare this economy booster to that in the Gulf off of Texas to Florida.
I just feel that there needs to be more justification prior to this going forward.
Hawaii Kai residents are very good about stopping these proposals like the closing of the Koko Crater stairs and many housing construction projects. I feel they just need to hear another side and our paragliding community / grass roots friends is a great place to start. I'll write a letter for sure. Please let me know if I can do more. ChopperDave, davebean46@yahoo.com

Alex said...

Dear Mayor Hanneman, Council Chairman Apo, and City Council Members,

I am writing to urge you to reject the measure currently being considered by the Council to ban shark tours on Oahu. I previously signed an automated online petition, but I feel strongly about this and I am now taking the time to write a letter myself.

I have been on a North Shore shark tour, along with my son who was 8 years old at the time. He was much braver than I was, perhaps because he doesn't have the lifetime of prejudices most adults have. It was an amazing and memorable experience for both of us, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the life of the ocean. We left the tour with a new respect for and understanding of sharks, as well as an appreciation for their important place in the ocean ecosystem. We are frequent recreational ocean users, swimming at local beaches and kayaking around the reef out here as often as we can.

I certainly hope that anyone taking a position on this ban has made the effort to go on a tour to see what they are all about. It's hard for me to imagine that anyone who has met the North Shore operators or has been on one of these tours could support this ban. And after reading various news accounts and opinions about the ban initiative, and also considering all of the scientific studies and data available, it's even harder to imagine.

The argument for the ban is not based on scientific data or the support of the North Shore community. The shark tours are doing an important job of educating their patrons and the community about sharks and the need for conservation. The shark tours are better than an aquarium because they don't require us to capture and cage the animals! The opportunity to see them in their natural environment is a rare and wonderful privilege and carries more impact than a stroll through an aquarium.

Let's not allow our visceral but uninformed fear of these incredible and important ocean creatures to cloud our judgment. Sharks deserve our respect and assistance - they are vastly more endangered from us than we are from them. Please reject this ill-conceived ban on shark tours, or at least consider a less sweeping measure such as a permit moratorium, pending further study. I am confident that further study will reveal these tours are a benefit to our community, representing an important facet of the type of eco-tourism we should be promoting for our local economy.

Thank you for your time.

Alex Colby
Hauula

stefanie said...

Hey guys,
thank you so much for you awesome comments. If you had sent those to the website, please make sure you also send them directly to the council members addresses. The petition destination addresses changed when the bill was moved to the City council. Up until last month we were sending them to the senators, but now we have to work on those council members. It a completely new playing field.
When you email them you can cc me at stefaniebrendl@gmail.com and I will get a copy.
I will print them out and hand deliver copies should more politicians get involved.

thanks for taking the time to express your opinion.
Can't tell you how much that means to me.

Stefanie

stefanie said...

Forgot to mention:
We heard that Councilman Djou will be on the AM Radio show (830AM Talk radio) tomorrow morning (5-9am). If anyone feels like listening and calling in to ask him questions. The studio number is 521-8383, but they will also announce it on the radio.
thanks
Stef