Wherever you live, over the next few days you have the opportunity to make your voice heard about the shark baiting that’s happening in my little corner of the world. Colin Barnett, the WA Premier, has been quoted in the last 48 hours as saying he believes the silent majority are for the cull. If you disagree, PLEASE don’t let his statement stand as your voice. Find out why your voice is needed right now at the bottom of this blog.
The background is this: If you’re a Western Australian, chances are you know from extensive media coverage that there is a shark cull going on off our beaches at the moment. Drum lines have been set off metropolitan beaches from Cottesloe to Leighton Beach in Mullalloo (and two beaches in southern WA), where hooked baits catch sharks who are then assessed by the Department of Fisheries. Those deemed large enough to be a danger to swimmers (over 3 metres) are killed, smaller ones are released, although they are often wounded and so it’s questionable how many of them survive.
I’ve been to both Cottesloe rallies against the cull, and everyone I have heard speak is passionate about the value of human life. It is FOR this reason that they are against the shark cull. Protecting human life means valuing the biodiversity which sustains our planet, and there is not enough known about the sharks off the WA coast for this quite arbitrary killing or maiming of sharks – usually tiger sharks so far – who are attracted to the baits.
In a former life before children I was a scuba diver – and hopefully one day I will get back in the water with a tank on my back. I have swum with a number of different species of sharks, including hammerheads. I considered and accepted the risk I took on entering their world. I also knew from my interest in marine life that there are many occurrences of sharks and people swimming near one another without an attack happening – attacks are the exception. Any injury or death from a shark bite is an absolute tragedy, but I wish that the millions being spent on this seemingly ill-thought-out cull could be spent on making our beaches safer and continuing to research these apex predators (particularly in light of the chances humankind is forcing upon the oceans). If only we could understand them better, perhaps then we would not have to fear them so much. Our co-existence is vital to the well-being of our planet.
I have taken the following from an email written by Sea Shepherd’s Australian director Jeff Hansen, which tells you how to make your voice heard:
The Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has referred the Shark Cull ‘policy’, with a consultation period from 12th February 2014 to 20th February 2014, this means we have just 6 days for our voices to be heard for the sharks and precious marine life.
We are calling on all our supporters not only in Australia but all over the world, to let the EPA know that this policy is completely environmentally unacceptable. The more submissions the EPA receives, the greater the chance of stopping the shark cull in its tracks. This public comment period enables the EPA a rough gauge as to what the community is feeling so they can determine an appropriate level of assessment.
Getting support for this will have more of direct impact on stopping the cull than almost any other thing we could be putting our efforts into over the next 6 days.
So please ask your friends and their friends to make a submission here https://consultation.epa.wa.gov.au/seven-day-comment-on-referrals/shark-drum-line-deployment-management/consult_view – Click “Online Survey” and for question 5 – recommend selecting “API Category B (environmentally unacceptable)”
For any background reading or some key points to make in your entry please see this post by Jessica Meeuwig, Professor & Director, Centre for Marine Futures at University of Western Australia https://theconversation.com/explainer-sharks-why-size-and-species-matter-22535, or recent posts made on the seashepherd.org.au website.