Just a short note to let you know that we will soon move our Blog over to Blogger at: http://www.samstourspalau.blogspot.com The new blog is already active and we're in the process of porting over all previous posts from our archives. We're not quite done with some of the other features just yet that will include photo galleries and video feeds. Subscribe to the Blog feeds to keep up to date on the latest. When the new Blog is completed, we'll redirect all traffic to the new location and discontinue the old Blog.
The new Blog is created on Blogger, a free tool available on Google and one that any computer savvy individual can master very easily. Never mind the tutorials, just follow the prompts and get started. It's really amazingly simple and a feature I really like is the ability to post directly to the Blog simply by sending an e-mail to your private Blogger code. Images are supported too! It's really super simple. What better easier way to keep the Blog current than dropping a quick e-mail to your coded URL and it's live on-line in minutes.
I tried it out myself by send a number of the archived posts from our old Blog to the new Blog by e-mail. It's that simple!
The two controversial Senate Bills (SB8-44 and SB8-50) which propose to undo Palau’s landmark shark protection laws adopted under the previous Remengesau Administration in 2003, are both pending at the Senate Committee on Resources, Commerce, Trade and Development.
SB No. 8-44 which proposes to allow commercial fishing for sharks was introduced on March 5, 2009 and passed 1st reading on that same day.
SB No. 8-50 which proposes to exempt commercial fishing companies from export taxes on fish caught by purse-seining methods for a period of 5 years was introduced on March 26, 2009 and passed first reading on the same day too.
For background information on these controversial Bills please visit: http://www.sharksanctuary.blogspot.com and read the multiple posts. Visit Palau Shark Sanctuary for more information on shark conservation efforts in Palau at: http://www.sharksanctuary.com
According to Senate sources if the committee reports on these proposed Bills in the next session of the Senate which opens tomorrow, the Bills will go to their 2nd Reading.
The shark conservation organization SHARK SAVERS has created an on-line petition where you may register your opposition to Senate Bill 8-44 and commercial shark fishing. Please visit the link below and sign this petition today. Time is of the essence. Please act now!!! Petition Link:
Many thanks to all who have already acted including professional photographers and environmentalists EDWARD DORSON, TODD ESSICK and GUNTHER DEICHMANN who are among the many concerned individuals who have taken time to submit their comments in opposition to these Bills. These professional photographers have all visited and dived in Palau and know just how important sharks are to Palau’s tourism industry and to the entire marine eco-system. We appreciate their support.
Visit their websites and blogs for more information and fantastic images at:
Edward Dorson: http://dorsonstudios.com
Todd Essick: http://www.essickphoto.com
Our friends at SEA BEES DIVING Thailand who are members of the Quality Divers network and winners of the coveted Golden Dolphin Award, are organizing an on-line Easter Egg Hunt for 6 GOLDEN EASTER EGGS! Here's are the details:
SEA BEES DIVERS have hidden a number of golden eggs on their webpage http://www.sea-bees.com/eng/index.htm and on the Quality Divers webpage http://www.quality-divers.com/qd/english/kern.htm Anyone who finds all of the eggs will be included in their lucky draw for great prizes as follows:
1st prize: 6 daytrips with 12 dives with the Quality Divers Partner of your choice.
2nd prize: 4 daytrips with 8 dives with the Quality Divers Partner of your choice.
3rd prize: 2 daytrips with 4 dives with the Quality Divers Partner of your choice.
That's right! Winners can redeem their prize at any Quality Divers location round the world. Visit www.quality-divers.com for complete info on Quality Divers twelve member dive centres in Egypt, Croatia, Thailand, Madeira, the Philippines, Mexico, France, Gozo, the Seychelles, Yap and Palau in Micronesia and the Caribbean.
Truly a GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY to have some fun, win great prizes and enjoy world class diving! Here's all you have to do:
Visit SEA BEES DIVERS homepage and find 3 golden eggs. Record the unique number of each egg. Visit the Quality Divers web page where there are 3 more hidden eggs and again record the unique number of each egg. When you've found all six (6) Golden Eggs send an e-mail to Sea Bees Divers with all 6 numbers - the order is not important.
All e-mails with the right numbers will participate in the lucky draw. The entry deadline is the 30th April 2009. The winners will be notified by e-mail and published on the Sea Bees Blog. Quality Divers and Sea Bees staff are not allowed to participate. Good luck!
Sam's Tours recently became a member of QUALITY DIVERS an international Association of First Class Dive Operators whose membership spans the globe and includes Manta Ray Bay Hotel & Yap Divers, our very own next door neighbor on the beautiful island of Yap, Micronesia. Other member dive centres are located in Egypt, Croatia, Thailand, Madeira, the Philippines, Mexico, France, Gozo, Seychelles, and the Caribbean and new applications for membership continue to be received.
The purpose of Quality Divers is to offer divers a worldwide network of first class dive companies committed to providing excellence in service, satisfaction and safety. Sam's Tours appreciates our selection for membership in Quality Divers and we believe it reflects our own long standing reputation for these same qualities.
In addition to the high safety and quality standards required of Quality Divers member dive centers, their diving customers may also benefit from the Quality Divers Privilege Card by availing of special offers from network dive centers to make diving holidays even more attractive!
The Quality Divers Privilege Card is totally free and it is accepted by all Quality Divers members, regardless of the issuing dive center. It's a great way for divers to get out and explore the world with the comfort of guaranteed service excellence, maximum safety, and save some money too!
Visit the Quality Divers website for complete information on Quality Divers and our partners in diving excellence around the world.
A Bill is now before Palau's OEK (Congress) that if passed would eliminate Palau's strong shark protection laws and actively encourage fishing for sharks and the taking of shark fins.
Senate Bill No. 8-44 seeks "to amend Title 27 of Palau's National Code to allow for the commercial fishing of sharks within Palau's Exclusive Economic Zone, to impose a tax on the export of sharks and tuna-like species, and for other related purposes."
The proposed law is a potentially severe blow to Palau's tourism industry of which scuba diving is the mainstay. Palau gained international recognition in 2004 for passage of landmark legislation that protected sharks, turtles and rays and outlawed the practice of shark-finning. Under Senate Bill 8-44 it is unclear whether shark fishing and or shark-finning is or is not permitted and the ambiguity will make it virtually impossible for law enforcement to successfully prosecute potential violators. Sections of the bill read as follows:
"It is unlawful for any person: to remove the fins of or otherwise intentionally mutilate or injure any such shark"
"It shall be unlawful for any person to have on board a fishing vessel shark fins that total more than five percent of the weight of sharks on board."
Other provisions of the proposed Act call for:
"An appropriate export tax for shark and fish caught pursuant to this Act."
"A minimum monetary or in-kind fish donation that commercial fishing companies shall make to the Belau National Hospital, the Aging Program within the Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs, or similar governmental agency or private, non-profit organization. These donations shall come from fish or shark caught pursuant to this Act, or revenues generated from those fish or shark."
Members of the Belau Tourism Association, Palau Chamber of Commerce and the Palau Visitors Authority are strongly opposed to passage of this legislation.
Fishing company consortiums from the city of General Santos, Philippines, are pressing hard for rights to fish in Palau's Exclusive Economic Zone and it is widely believed that introduction of this bill is no mere coincidence. Foreign fishing fleets have a well documented track record of violating Palau's environmental laws, poaching Palau's marine resources and violating fishing agreements. This proposed Bill puts the Palau's tourism industry directly at odds with commercial fishing in Palau's waters as the two are simply incompatible.
In 2004 Palau was recognized by shark conservation agency Sharkproject as their Shark Guardian of The Year. Passage of Senate Bill 8-44 will be a sudden and potentially costly about face for Palau that will yield no gain. Palau only stands to lose...lose its fisheries and its dive industry.
I urge you to speak out against this proposed Bill by sending your comments to all of the following organizations who are fighting against Senate Bill 8-44:
Belau Tourism Association: firstname.lastname@example.org
Palau Chamber of Commerce: email@example.com
Palau Visitors Authority: firstname.lastname@example.org
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