Thursday, October 13, 2011

Global shark conservation, and then there's Australia

The head of a gravid Tiger being dumped. Image Michael Ross
A 12 foot Tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) was caught on drumlines off the Gold Coast of Australia this week with authorities "shooing away" photographers in an apparent attempt to conceal the size of the animal.

The female Tiger was found to have 30 pups inside her.

We have covered the ongoing devastating effects of drumlines on shark off the Gold Coast for several years, and it's not just an Australian problem with South Africa employing the same techniques to manage their regional "shark issues".

What makes today's story particularly frustrating from both a conservation and shark diving industry perspective is the apparent shark psychosis that Australian management officials suffer from. On one coast it is o.k to kill white sharks, tigers and just about any other shark species that is unfortunate enough to bite down on baited hooks, while on other coast where tourism with sharks generates million of dollars sustainably, authorities are attempting to shut some operations down and reduce the numbers of days they can operate - all in an effort to protect sharks.

White shark caught on Gold Coast drumline in 2009

While the rest of the planet marches headlong into new an uncharted territory for shark conservation with the addition of millions of square miles of shark sanctuaries, byzantine hold outs like Australia and South Africa are setting new lows for shark management policies.

Your either protecting sharks, or not.

In Australia it would seem that at least when sharks are commercialized sustainably with conservation minded shark diving operations, sharks need to be studied, protected, and managed. But in areas where humans demand high dollar value for beachfront housing and waters to wade in, shark conservation begins and ends with a baited hook.

Welcome to the world of Australian shark management, if you're a shark, take a left turn at Sydney, because that's the only way you'll survive Gold Coast shark management.