We love the ocean, and we love diving.
We often describe ourselves as a conservation project masquerading as a dive shop.
Yes we take people out to the world famous reefs and wrecks of Beqa Lagoon and above all, to our flagship product, the Fiji Shark Dive. But these commercial activities are merely a means to our ultimate aim which is to protect the Sharks of Fiji.
Since our inception in 2004, we have been pursuing an agenda of pairing tourism with research, conservation and cooperation with local authorities. We collaborate with the Ministry of Fisheries, and local communities at the grass roots level.
Although our primary goal is to protect Sharks, we understand that species protection is only successful if coupled with habitat conservation. We strongly believe in the ethical imperative that we need to assume the stewardship of the areas we dive in and from which we derive our sustenance, not only because we really do love the ocean but also, because this is nothing more than good, sustainable business.
We find ourselves fortunate that many indigenous Fijian tribes hold a traditional cultural respect for Sharks, it is because of this that our coastal Shark populations remain relatively stable. As the cash economy continues to progress and those cultural traditions are being eroded, Fiji’s marine ecosystems are however increasingly coming under pressure.
Our approach has been that to involve and to compensate the local stakeholders and we thus very much enjoy the support of the local community and notably, of the local fishermen who have witnessed a miraculous recovery of their fishing yields close to the reserve.
Our notable achievements include:
2004: Shark Reef Marine Reserve
The establishment of Shark Reef Marine Reserve, Fiji’s, and quite possibly the world’s first MPA dedicated to Shark conservation and Shark research, this in close co-operation with the then Ministry of Fisheries and the village of Galoa (pronounced Nah-low-ah).
A user fee goes to the village of Galoa, in exchange for not fishing there. Marine park levies since disbursed to the village total over FJD 250,000.00. Furthermore, BAD pay voluntary reef fees to several villages in the neighborhood.
A youth program provides for education and sustainable income by training unemployed youth to become dive professionals. So far, all successful candidates have been subsequently hired by BAD. Fish wardens trained in cooperation with the Ministry of Fisheries ensure enforcement of the fishing ban.
We are also facilitating numerous research projects that have already resulted in over two dozen scientific publications.
2006: AON Excellence in Tourism Award
2009: Fiji Shark Conservation Awareness Project
Development and coordination of this project is in contribution to the International Year of the Shark, the only such national event world-wide and Fiji’s first national Shark conservation campaign. This project was supported by the vast majority of Fiji’s dive operators, NGOs but also interested Government Departments. BAD also produces Fiji’s first Shark Conservation PSA.
2009-2010: Shark Free Marinas
BAD conducts a drive for Shark Free Marinas together with Matava, where Fiji remains one of the foremost participating countries with 24 adherents.
2010-2011: Mangroves For Fiji
This is a world first which offers an opportunity to offset your carbon footprint by sponsoring the planting of mangroves, a critical and endangered habitat and an excellent carbon sink.
As of September, 2011, BAD is the planet’s first completely carbon neutral dive operator, this after sponsoring the planting of 330,000 mangrove trees.
We are planting more mangroves to offset the carbon footprint of our clients traveling to Fiji, again a world first. This project has been conducted in cooperation with numerous local Fijian communities and across the country. Not only are they being educated in ecological awareness, but they have earned a sustainable income to the tune of approx. FJD 30,000.00. The list of mangrove planters can be viewed here. As of 2013, the running of the project has been delegated to Projects Abroad.
2012: AON Excellence in Tourism Award
A prestigious peer-review award given in recognition of individuals and organizations who have gone that extra mile to develop National Tourism and in so doing, have inspired others to share their vision of a buoyant and enduring service industry of supreme national importance.
2012-2016: The Great Fiji Shark Count
The first national Shark count in the world and it unites the tourism industry, Government and various NGOs. The purpose was to create a recurring tourism attraction but more importantly, to start long-term monitoring of Fiji’s Shark, Ray and Turtle populations in order to collect long-term data and facilitate the optimal management of these precious resources. The counts were conducted during the months of April and November and discontinued after 5 years in 2016. This citizen science project will be reactivated once Fiji enacts country-wide Shark protection, as these counts constitute an important baseline for measuring future developments.
2013: Shark Conservation Volunteering
The creation of Fiji’s first, biggest and most successful Shark-centric voluntourism program together with our partners Projects Abroad.
2014: Global Shark Diving
BAD is the founding member of the world’s first alliance of responsible conservation-minded Shark diving operators.
2014: Fiji's First National Marine Park
After more than ten years of advocacy, blood, sweat and tears, Fiji’s First National Marine Park, Shark Reef Marine Reserve (see above) becomes a formally legislated, and enforceable MPA. In a global first, BAD as a for-profit entity has been tasked with the day-to-day management in a ground-breaking PPP (public private partnership). In that function and on top of our dive business, we continue to monitor the reef and its fauna, enforce the no-fishing ban and conduct regular reef checks and ongoing research, all of which we pay for out of cash flow.
2016: ANZ Excellence in Tourism Award
A particularly valuable award which acknowledges the efforts and contributions made by individuals and organisations who have successfully implemented environmentally sustainable initiatives, demonstrable by long-term commitment and performance. It also recognises the promotion, development and engagement with the Fijian people and operators understanding of Fiji’s Green Growth Framework.
2018: My Fiji Shark
With support from the UNDP, BAD creates the most unique and arguably the most popular shark adoption in the world. Proceeds from the program are earmarked for research, conservation, construction a Shark Lab, and assisting Fiji in the implementation of its forthcoming Shark Regulations for which BAD has provided draft work.
2021-2024: Post Covid Measures
Fiji’s marine ecosystems have been severely affected by widespread poaching and overfishing due to the covid-induced economic downturn, and by multiple large-scale coral bleaching events due to an unprecedented triple-dip La Niña. We have embarked on a program of monitoring, mitigation and enforcement in cooperation with the UNDP, UNEP and the Global Fund for Coral Reefs as follows
- Comprehensive benthic and coral bleaching surveys, and fish + indicator species counts in order to evaluate the damage to reef ecosystems versus previously established baselines
- Aggressive anti-poaching patrols in cooperation with Fisheries and the Navy
- Further surveys to evaluate any rebound rates after renewed monitoring and enforcement
- Establishment of coral nursery in order to reseed the SRMR with heat-tolerant corals
- Establishment of a Giant Clam Nursery to reseed the SRMR
2023: New Headquarters
Purpose-built on our own waterfront land and housing several buildings, the compound comprises the reception and boutique, dive training facilities including a deep pool, The Fiji Shark Lab, a repair shop, ample storage, client amenities, floating docks and a slipway for our two purpose-built hydrofoil catamarans, and operates several compressors and a large emergency power plant.
This establishes a new standard for Fiji’s diving industry.