BEQA ADVENTURE DIVERS
Beqa Adventure Divers (BAD) is a PADI 5 Star Dive Centre specialising in award winning shark diving ranked amongst the best in the world. They are a modern dive operation fusing Fijian hospitality with world class diving facilities. Situated at Lagoon Resort in Pacific Harbour,
BAD is in a prime location to reach the world famous 'Shark Dive' and the beautiful reefs and mysterious wrecks of Beqa Lagoon.
BAD describe themselves as a conservation project masquerading as a dive shop. This can be seen in the number of conservation projects they have undertaken, and also currently have under way, as well as their work with Voluntourism and community projects. Since their inception in 2004, BAD has cooperated closely with local authorities, NGOs, academia and grassroots communities, and all of their efforts aim at science based long-term sustainability and the stewardship of natural resources.
The cornerstone of BAD’s efforts remain the hands-on protection of reef environments.
Although their primary goal is to protect sharks, species protection is only successful if coupled with habitat conservation. BAD believe in the ethical imperative that tourism operators need to assume the stewardship of the areas tourism divers access, the more as these are the same areas from which
all Fijians derive their sustenance. This is not only because they love the ocean but because it is good, sustainable business. To facilitate local stakeholder acceptance at the grassroots level, BAD disburses voluntary contributions to 10 villages in the Beqa area. Furthermore, they primarily employ locals and have been running a highly successful youth program whereby unemployed youth are being trained as dive guides.
Notable Achievements Include:
Fiji’s First National Marine Park
BAD started their conservation and sustainability work in 2003 with the Fiji Shark Project and this resulted in the establishment of Shark Reef Marine Reserve, Fiji’s first locally managed MPA dedicated to researching and preserving a local shark population, in 2004. After ten years of advocacy, close cooperation with the Department of Fisheries, numerous research papers and local conservation projects, Cabinet designated Shark Reef Marine Reserve as Fiji’s first National Marine Park in November 2014. With BAD entrusted with its day-to-day management, this is a ground-breaking model for public-private partnerships where Government devolves some of its authority to qualified partners in the private sector.
Fiji Shark Corridor
BAD's approach has always been to involve and to compensate the local stakeholders. As a result, BAD has gained the support of the local community and the local fishermen who have witnessed a miraculous recovery of their fishing yields outside of the reserve. With this community support, BAD has been able to expand the Shark protected area to encompass all of the reefs along approx. 30 miles of the southern coast of Viti Levu which is being dubbed the Fiji Shark Corridor.
One of the toughest tasks facing SRMR, or any protected area, is to stop illegal fishing.
In April 2004, Beqa Adventure Divers began sponsoring the training of Fish Wardens from the local community: Wainiyabia, Galoa, Beqa Island, Yanuca Island, Waidroka, Navua and members of their own staff.
Conducted by the Government of Fiji, this training program has empowered the community to monitor their protected waters, as Fish Wardens are attached to the Fisheries Department and deputized with police powers. Over the years BAD has sponsored additional courses and contributed to the training of more than 50 fish wardens. Presently, all of BAD's staff are officially empowered to protect the waters around Pacific Harbour, which facilitates the monitoring and enforcement of the SRMR.
Sustainable Business Model
BAD always strives to minimise its ecological footprint by e.g. phasing out single-use plastic or always running the most efficient and least polluting marine engines, by minimising the use of imported items or by never anchoring but only using mornings its installs and maintains in the Beqa area, etc.
Mangroves For Fiji
Mangroves for Fiji was created by BAD in 2010 to enable BAD to offset ALL of their carbon emissions through the restoration of Mangroves. By the close of 2010, BAD became a completely carbon neutral business through replanting mangroves. Since that time, BAD has been offsetting the carbon footprint their clients have incurred when travelling to Fiji. Dozens of hectares of mangrove forests have been rehabilitated, with hundreds of thousands of mangroves having been planted.
Money earned by the mangrove planters has been funneled into education, infrastructure, farming equipment, and other local causes as determined by the local Fijian mangrove planting groups. Together with Projects Abroad, the program has been extended and now additionally comprises a plastic bottle recycling component.
Starting with daily Shark awareness and conservation presentations BAD imparts to their clients, BAD has been running numerous outreach and awareness initiatives both in Fiji and abroad. In fact BAD's Shark blog is widely regarded as the most popular and authoritative in the world.
Notable initiatives include:
High School & College Tourism Program
Working with the tourism company Broadreach, BAD runs Shark-centric summer camps for both High School and College students. Students not only learn about shark biology and behavior, but they participate in local community projects as well.
Voluntourism Program - Shark Conservation In Fiji
In 2014 BAD, working in conjunction with Projects Abroad and local NGO's, developed a new Voluntourism product for Fiji: The Shark Conservation Project.
Since 2015, volunteers on Projects Abroad’s Shark Conservation Project in Fiji have pioneered shark protection projects alongside respected scientists and shark research experts at the BAD Dive Centre.
Global Shark Diving
BAD are a founding member of Global Shark Diving, the first global alliance of responsible and long-term sustainable shark diving operators! Global Shark Diving is an alliance of independent dive operators that provide some of the world’s finest shark diving experiences. All operators are committed to providing world class shark diving and operate within a code of conduct that is determined by their unique business, marine and safety requirements, namely: 1) Excellent safety procedures; 2) The sponsoring of shark research and 3) A dedication to shark conservation.
Through this initiative, BAD are hopes to gradually direct the industry towards a more credible, eco-friendly and long term sustainable product whilst safe-guarding their most valuable asset, the sharks.
BAD's shark-centric projects are founded in sound scientific insights.
Dr. Juerg Brunnschweiler, a leading Bull Shark expert, has been supporting these projects from the inception of The Fiji Shark Project.
In embarking on new research initiatives two prerequisites must be met: 1) Its immediate aim has to be Conservation-oriented; and 2) It has to avail itself of the least invasive techniques. BAD’s scientific research has led to the publication of peer-reviewed scientific papers. In fact, these are by far the most numerous scientific publications about sharks from Fiji. They are regularly being shared with the relevant government authorities in the aim of better informing fisheries managers and tourism stakeholders.
Since 2003, BAD has developed and continues to maintain an exhaustive data set about shark tourism.
Great Fiji Shark Count
Initiated by BAD in 2012, the Great Fiji Shark Count is a Fiji-wide initiative where dive tourism operators and their customers count sharks, rays and turtles for the months of April and November. This is the first and only such national citizen science project anywhere. The data attained has been analyzed scientifically and has provided insights into the long-term population trends of this charismatic megafauna.