Editorial 57

Editorial

By Dave Moran

What a great few months it has been with America’s Cup fever gripping this country. One of the things I like about New Zealand is that the whole country gets involved in events of this nature. In larger countries such as the United States, the population on the East Coast couldn’t care less about what is happening on the West Coast, and vice versa. The nation’s positive mood at present is magnificent. People feel good about their country. We are proud of what our boys achieved. We as individuals, businesses and as a nation should take on board the main lesson from that winning 5-0 achievement. Set your goals and with a committed team you can achieve your wildest dreams. Thanks, Team New Zealand for the lesson. Is there a lesson here for the dive industry? … Think about it.

Winning now allows Sir Peter to pursue his next dream of revitalising the Cousteau Society, knowing that the Cup is in capable hands. Turn to page 42 for more details about the Cousteau Society’s future plans on board Antarctic Explorer.

There has been some controversy recently over using ships as artificial reefs. The Northern Advocate ran a headline ‘Reef plan naive, arrogant’. They were quoting leading marine biologist and marine reserve advocate Dr Bill Ballantine who was commenting on plans to sink the Waikato to establish an artificial reef to attract fish. Bill believes there are an abundance of natural reefs around our coast and establishing more marine reserves containing existing reefs is a much more environmentally sensible option than dumping more rubbish in the sea. If you tried to do the same in a forest ‘there would be screams of outrage’.

I can see where Bill is coming from and appreciate his point of view. I am sure all divers have mixed feelings about people’s junk being used as artificial reefs, but there is no doubt that junk, especially if it is large and contains open recesses, attracts fish life. I guess that a wreck focusses divers on a certain spot in the ocean where they dive because the wreck is of interest and they know the marine life will be spectacular. I consider that wrecks in virtual ocean deserts are a great example of what a wreck can do to a barren sea bed. The Yongala in Queensland is probably the best example with virtually every species of fish that you will see on the Great Barrier Reef all packed into this oasis … it is absolutely amazing. The wreck of the. Naigara off the Hen and Chicken Islands is another good example – it is loaded with fish.

I recently dived The Tui which is resting on a reef and a sandy bottom. My prime objective was to see how the wreck had settled after a year on the bottom. It was not long before I realised that I was virtually oblivious to the actual wreck structure and was more amazed by the fish life surrounding and within the wreck. To see an abundance of fish, all a diver has to do is go to a marine reserve, Goat Island being a great example. The catch 22 is whether it’s appropriate to create these artificial reefs that are an interest for today’s diver and whether they make divers more aware of the marine inhabitants than they would necessarily have been when hunting for crays. Will they then be more protective of the marine environment?

On the other side of the coin is the increased business such artificial reefs create for the local dive charter boat operators who, at the best of times, are struggling to make a decent living. Wrecks definitely help the local businesses in the area, in the same way as natural marine reserves do. Is there room for both types of reserves? I think there is as long as we don’t go overboard with wreck dumping. The ships that are sunk must be professionally prepared and sunk where they will create the most benefits for the marine environment and the local community.

Dive New Zealand’s website is undergoing a major rebuild in the mail order section. Products such as books, apparel, Kodak products and underwater photographic equipment will be going on line in a very easy to use shopping cart system. The site is currently up and running and will be completely functional by the end of the month. Check it out, it’s the same as driving to your local book store. www.DiveNewZealand.com. Get out there and enjoy this beautiful country.

Dave Moran

Editor

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