Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Richard Branson, voice of reason?

Most of you are aware of the recent "shark cull" policy enacted in Western Australia. Since they actually started to use baited drum-lines, there has been a public outcry to stop the killing of the sharks. Many argue the the drum lines indiscriminately kill, not only large Great White - and Tiger-Sharks, but smaller sharks and different species of sharks as well. Some even suggest that the sharks and other animals that are caught in the lines are attracting other predators, essentially acting as chum.

In 13 years of diving with Great White Sharks at Isla Guadalupe, I have observed that the smaller sharks are actually more inquisitive than the larger individuals and are likely more apt to bite something in order to investigate what it is. So even if the drum-lines would only catch the large sharks it intends to, we have to ask ourselves, are we even trying to catch the sharks that are most likely to bite a human?

Here is the problem with the approach with us shark experts and conservationists. We look at the problem from a shark related perspective. There is nothing wrong with that, but we have to address the real reason the shark cull was started.

Sir Richard Branson, foto wildaid.org
Since Western Australian premier, Colin Barnett, has indicated that his goal is to protect a way of life and the tourism industry, I think that Richard Branson, head of the Virgin Group, has a better approach. In this article he is quoted as saying, "I'm sure one of the reasons he [Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett] did it was because he was thinking it would encourage tourism. It's going to do quite the reverse, I think. You're advertising a problem that doesn't exist in a major way and you're deterring people from wanting to come to Perth and your beautiful countryside around it. All you're going to achieve, I think, is to worry people unnecessarily."

I believe that Richard Branson knows a thing or two about tourism and promotion. Hopefully premier Colin Barnett will listen to his voice of reason, if not for the sake of the sharks, then for purely economic reasons, to protect the way of life and the tourist industry of Western Australia.

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.