In response to a recent Sea Shepherd editorial published in the Sydney Morning Herald, along with an online petition to prevent a shark cull organized by Ryan Kempster and the NARC dive club, Western Australia’s (WA) sharks have been given a reprieve, for the moment at least.
Over 19,000 people signed a petition to prevent a cull of WA’s sharks in favor of adopting non-lethal shark monitoring measures. As a result, an announcement was made from WA Fisheries Minister Norman Moore stating that the state government is set to invest more than $13.65 million over the next five years to help reduce the potential risk of shark attacks with the introduction of non-lethal shark mitigation strategies. These measures include increased aerial surveillance; a SMS public alert system, a dedicated shark response unit to tag and track resident sharks, and a boost to shark research funding in WA.
While the WA State Government did not support beach netting at this point in time, the Department of Fisheries will undertake an evaluation of the effectiveness of beach netting as is used in the eastern states.
Sea Shepherd is strongly opposed to shark nets as they are indiscriminate killers, killing marine life such as seals, turtles, stingrays, dolphins, and even whales in addition to sharks. The majority of sharks that are caught in these nets are on the beachside on their way back out to sea. Simply put - they don’t work. They should be banned and removed immediately from all coastlines worldwide.
The department will also implement a community engagement strategy and media campaign to provide information about avoiding shark hazards. Mr. Moore said the cabinet’s consideration of other strategies had ruled out a major cull of white sharks to reduce their numbers, seal culling/relocation program, the creation of beach pools as a shark mitigation strategy, and drum line programs to control white shark numbers.
While this announcement from Minister Moore is definitely a step in the right direction for the preservation of sharks for the benefit of future generations, there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done to change the public’s perception of sharks. We need more people to take a stand for shark protection and spread the word that they are a keystone species that we rely on every day for our existence.