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February 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 29, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Buddy Dive Shut Down in the Galapagos

from the February, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

We got a couple of e-mails from readers asking why their Galapagos dive trips aboard the Buddy Dive liveaboards, M.Y. Wolf Buddy and M.Y. Darwin Buddy, were cancelled. Bob Speir (Falls Church, VA) wrote, "My wife and I had a May trip arranged on Buddy Dive out of San Cristobal. However, we just got notice from the travel agent at Caradonna that Buddy Dive has lost its permits there and may not get them back through April or later. Got any idea what has happened?"

Kayla Koeber (St. George, UT) had trips scheduled for mid-December but then got an e-mail from Buddy Dive that it was forced by the Galapagos National Park Service (GNPS) to stop operations for reasons unknown. "Our lawyers informed us that this action is illegal, but unfortunately, the Park has the power to stop any operation or ship at any time." The Park was going to have a hearing on December 11, and according to Buddy Dive's note, "We expect that our operations will be back to normal. As, of course, this is depending on their decision, we can't give any guarantees our ships will cruise."

Koeber got to go on her trip, but she was on the final voyage. On December 24, the GNPS suspended the operations of Buddy Dive liveaboards in the marine reserve for not having complied with the provisions of their operating license. In a press release, the GNPS stated that the operators had not submitted semiannual reports on their performance regarding GNPS's environmental management plan, they had not presented environmental compliance audits, and they had not paid a required annual fee to the park.

When we inquired with Paul Coolen, Buddy Dive's general manager in Bonaire, he blamed the Park for yo-yo decisions about his company, and his frustration was obvious. "It seems that our efforts so far are not leading to a permanent solution. First they suspend us, the week after, they let us operate and the week after that, they suspend us again? It's very strange . . . and our clients are suffering from this decision."

Then on January 29, Buddy Dive officially announced it was shutting down operations in the Galapagos. Coolen told us he couldn't give the reasons why at the present time.

There are still three Galapagos liveaboards - the Galapagos Sky, Humboldt Explorer and the Galapagos Aggressor -- but now the number of slots for divers every week has gone down from 112 to 48. That means if you want to dive the Galapagos, the earliest you'll get the chance isn't until 2016.

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