scuba and spears in samoa

Hosch, Gilles (FAORAF) Gilles.Hosch at
Wed Mar 28 08:18:39 EST 2001

dear zoe,

i appreciate your e-mail, and would like to take the opportunity to reply to

it is nice to see that your company does have a policy on night spear
fishing, and your list of policy points is quite interesting. i have a few
points to note, in which i will follow your numbering pattern used in your
e-mail appended below. it should provide you with the opportunity to maybe
rethink and refine your statements with respect to that very policy:

1) this point is generally assumed a standard of general good and
responsible practice of any recreational dive operator, and has nothing to
do with spear fishing per se. nothing prevents a spear diver to own a scuba
2) this statement is empty, as you are not in a position to know your
clients' minds, and cannot know with any degree of certainty that they are
not going to use hired equipment or purchased air in underwater fishing
activities; but you might know individual fishermen and refuse to hire out
your equipment to them, or fill their tanks.
3) for anyone knowing PADI from the inside, the Project AWARE is a marketing
tool aimed at attracting more recreational divers under the moto of
environmental protection, and hence making more money [this IS NOT to say
that the project aware is useless]. it is important to bear this in mind
(when talking to critical folks like me). the projects you have carried out,
which show the commitment of your business to environmental protection, and
more specifically the projects for which no financial benefits were gained
will show your commitment to outsiders and boost the image of your
environmentally conscientious operations.
4) same as for point 1., this is generally assumed a standard of
environmentally conscientious practice of any recreational dive operator
operating on a coral reef, and has nothing to do with spear fishing per se.

what i think you should add though, in terms of policy points, is that you
do not hire out scuba equipment and do not fill tanks for fishermen you know
are scuba fishermen, and more importantly, never take out fishing parties to
sea on your diving barge at any time of the day to go scuba spearing on the
reef. those two things are the one's which are of real importance, and where
you as a recreational dive operator can make a difference. depending on your
commitment to the safeguard of the coral reefs in samoa, you could take it
from there, and lobby the other fellow recreational and commercial dive
operators to elaborate a similar policy. you could take it from there and
lobby restaurants to stop purchasing undersize lobsters to ornate their
buffets - and all of those efforts can be used to market your operation as
"clean and committed".

i have seen, with my own eyes, scuba spear fishing parties getting onboard
recreational dive boats in apia, opposite and further up from margreyta's
beer garden, at dusk. that is what is damaging your business. not the fact
that people like me notice and report it. i am not saying that it was the
diving barge your company is running, in fact i don't know. but it was a
diving barge run by a recreational dive operator as it was clearly flagged
as such. the fact that the subsistence fishery is still largely unregulated
in places like samoa makes ventures like those possible. in other countries
where such practices are illegal, a recreational dive operator engaging in
such activities would be risking high penalties if caught, along with the
scuba spear fishers.

therefore you are quite right in saying that "their trade will continue
until proper regulations are put into place and are enforced". the only
difference you can make in such an environment is to unilaterally make it
clear to the world that you, as a private sector business, are not part of
it, that you follow a clearly formulated company policy to that effect, and
that you urge the other operators to follow your lead.

i herewith also want to invite you to subscribe to the coral-list, and
discuss these important issues within the open forum. send an e-mail to
Majordomo at <mailto:Majordomo at>  with
"subscribe coral-list" in the body of the text. it will enable you to set
any records straight before the eyes of the world watching :), and listen in
on a miriad other issues relating to the reefs.

yours sincerely,


-----Original Message-----
From: Moana Divers [mailto:moanadivers at]
Sent: Monday, March 26, 2001 10:18 PM
To: Hosch, Gilles (FAORAF)

Hi Gilles

A friend of mine from SPREP forward on your message to me in regards to
night spear fishing.
I feel that I need to set the record straight as you have implicated Apia
based recreational scuba diving operators, among which we are well known.

Moana Divers policy on commercial night spear fishing is as follows

1) We do not hire tanks, equipment, or do tank refills for any person
without a scuba certification.
2) We also do not hire equipment, tanks or do air refills for any commercial
3) We are a member of PADI Project Aware which is devoted to preserving and
protecting coral reefs and fish life (and through which we have set up reef
education and beach clean-up projects)
4) Our policy on all dives is that they are no-take, no-touching and as
non-impact as possible (for this reason also we do not drop anchors on any
of our dive sites)

I agree with you that there are serious problems with non-sustainable
fishing practices and that the night spear fishing is having a huge impact
on the fish stocks, we as divers see that every day on our sites.  We are
committed to protecting the fish stocks and reefs obviously because without
them we have no business and also because as divers we have a personal
commitment to their preservation.  

Your email concerns me as it is damaging to our business and to other
commercial operators and is not reflective of our practices and ethics.  I
think you will find that it is not commercial scuba operators that encourage
or allow this type of harvesting to continue, but local fisherman with
dangerous practices for both themselves and for the sustainability of their
trade, a trade which will continue until proper regulations are put into
place and enforced.  

Yours Sincerely

Zoe Studd
PADI Dive Instructor
Moana Divers LTD
Level 1, Pasefika Inn
Matautu, Apia SAMOA
PO Box 843
Ph/Fax: (685) 24858
Mob: (685) 71059/70363
E-mail: moanadivers at <mailto:moanadivers at> 
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