Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Is Australia killing sharks? Again?

This is getting ridiculous. According to a couple of articles in the Australian, the Western Australian government has again decided to kill great white sharks. According to one article "Large sharks that swim into designated 'kill zones' near popular swimming and surfing beaches in Western Australia will be hunted by professional fishermen." The article quotes the fisheries minister Buswell as saying "This does not represent a culling of sharks. It is not a fear-driven hunt, it is a targeted, localised shark mitigation strategy,'' 

Wait a minute, did Mr Buswell say this is not a culling?  They are baiting hooks to catch and kill sharks, but it's not a cull. Only a politician can say something like that and actually think it makes sense.

A second article in the australian also states that "Treasurer Troy Buswell, who loses the fisheries portfolio on Wednesday, admitted it was likely other marine animals would be caught with the baited hooks, and it was possible tagged sharks used for research could also be caught by the new policy.
But the government insisted public safety came first."
There are a couple of things that don't make sense. Let's look at this a little closer.

1. The director of the Conservation Council of Western Australia correctly states that "This new cull policy amounts to indiscriminate fishing, and will not only cull potentially risky sharks, but we can expect to see dolphins, turtles, seals, nurse sharks and a range of other marine life killed off our beaches." So, since the baited hooks will not only target large sharks that are in the area, but also kill other marine life, the hooks will actually lure sharks into the area, because they will be attracted by the animals caught by the hooks. So how exactly is that going to make the beaches safer?

2. Targeting large sharks doesn't make a lot of sense, since it is actually the younger sharks that tend to be more inquisitive and less cautious than the adult ones.

Once again, politicians cater to the uneducated public and want to be seen as doing something, even if what they are doing isn't going to help and quite possibly could make the situation worse.

Martin Graf
Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com.