Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Australia's "Shark Stone Age"

After months of public pressure authorities in Australia have decided to leave shark nets in place citing safety concerns yet again.

Shark nets and drum lines kill sharks indiscriminately along the Gold Coast and there are viable and alternate solutions:

Shark nets along the Gold Coast will not be removed, despite yet another young whale being caught in a net off Burleigh Heads on Tuesday - the fifth so far this migration season.

It took just an hour to free the seven-metre juvenile, which shark control program manager Tony Ham said was probably one of last year's calves.

"This animal was calm and quiet, even though it was windy and conditions were difficult, so that helped the release," he said.

"Happily the mother was there to keep an eye on the young whale, and that usually gives them an opportunity to calm down... so that's usually a good thing for us."Mr Ham said despite the number of young whales being tangled up this season, the shark nets will not be removed.

In fact the damaged net off Burleigh will be replaced before the end of the day.

Mr Ham denied the shark nets are being maintained simply because of political pressure and said their value in stopping shark attacks is well documented.

"The program has been in place since 1962 and in that time we've had one fatal attack on a protected beach, at North Stradbroke island in 2006," he said."There were a number of attacks prior to the program going in - some of those were pretty horrific and fatal.

"We believe the program does work."It does catch sharks and it does catch dangerous sharks (so) to remove the nets even for the whale migration season is not an option."Mr Ham said the argument that not many people swam in the surf during the migration season was simply wrong.

"We have people bathing on Gold Coast beaches year round," he said.

"People come to Queensland for the very reason that we have safe swimming beaches.
"He said it was "unacceptable" to remove the safety equipment, particularly with school holidays coming up.

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