To Cull Or Not To Cull Pt. 1

To Cull Or Not To Cull Pt. 1

We're gonna look at WA's new shark laws from a few different angles.

If you're from Western Australia, you've no doubt copped a full frontal assault from the media about shark attacks in the region, especially since the death of another surfer a couple of weeks ago (RIP Chris Boyd, from what we hear you were an absolute legend). Today the WA government announced an ACTION PLAN to try and combat the fear of many WA beach-goers with regards to dealing with the threat of being eaten by sharks. You can get a full run down in the link above, but basically it boils down to any sharks over 3m in length, found less than 1km from the beach in designated 'kill zones', will be hunted and killed by professional fisherman.

One of our contributors, Davey Bostelman, has decided to offer his thoughts on the issue. He's a keen surfer, and spends more time at the beach than any of us. We'll likely offer some other points of view in the next few days, hopefully to just stir up some discussion about it, hopefully smarter and more informed than the dribble news website message boards devolve into.

Anyway, here's Davey's thoughts:

Today the government announced a new plan to combat the threat of sharks along our beloved Western Australian coastline, a plan I’m sure many of you have read or heard about on social media or the news. Now this is an article I've teetered on writing for a long time and I'm not here to sound like a degenerate Rick Ardon, rather a voice for common sense.

That’s right common sense. To dispel some stupid arguments we have heard lately, give the government’s new plan a thorough once-over, and also leave you with some things to think about.

I personally am for the removal of a number of sharks from the wild. Yes that means I am pro ‘culling’, however I don’t like that word as I think mainstream media has basically tortured our sub conscious with this phrase. There are two reason I think the removal of large Great White Sharks is a positive step forward – one it really couldn’t hurt to remove a researched number of larger Great Whites from our coastline, and two I would rather see the government remove sharks with professional fishermen and in a quiet fashion then looking at updating or revoking the endangered species tag that currently sits above old Bruce’s head and allowing anyone to fish them. I believe the latter could be the most damaging situation imaginable. The thought of having inexperienced or game fishermen hunt these animals for enjoyment sickens me, have you seen photos from Montauk Point or Albany in the ‘70s/’80s?

See above, I used the word research. That is what we should be calling for and lots of it. I am no shark expert and neither is anyone I know. Here-say and shark week experts are not helping the situation at all, so lay off the keyboard and stop arguing over outdated statistics, or if a human or shark’s life is more valuable. The need to understand these creatures is paramount.

The argument of this or that kills more than sharks is ridiculous, everything is relative to a situation and it only presents a piece of the story. Every surfer, diver and open water swimmer understands and knows the risk of sharks, we even take steps to mitigate it but there is very little we can do to actually protect ourselves. We have no airbags like cars, we have no tree to climb and hide if a nasty dog comes to attack us, nor do we have mosquito spray to protect us from Dengue Fever.

As I said at the start I really did want to dispel stupid arguments. Now to hammer the people that don’t actually use the beach or should I say water. Beach-goers who wade in the shallows, hush. The government before this latest attack had implemented steps to ensure your safety, it's called patrols and believe it or not our lifeguards are very good at them.

This is an issue for people who spend a lot of time in the WATER, not wading in the shallows. I’m talking people who spend over 10 hours a week on average in the water and this is why I have a problem with the latest plan from the government – it is designed to again protect summer, shallow water swimmers. 

Here is a list of issues with the new plan -

-Hunting sharks within 1km off the beach – I can see you do it, I don’t want that. You’re in the public eye, creating fear much like the media have done for years on the issue. It's funny how the shark-mania scenes in a movie like Jaws from 30 years ago has a very good chance of being recreated this summer if boats are madly fanging about our coast hoping to find a stray Noah who missed the memo about staying 1km away from the beach.

-The sharks we spot probably aren’t the risk, it’s the ones we don’t see. Remember they are an apex predator, that means they hunt real well.

-There is little to no research mentioned. We need knowledge, knowledge is power isn’t that what they teach on the first day of uni, or did I steal that quote from Legally Blonde?

-If you want to ‘cull’ sharks do so out of the public eye and remove a certain number, and measure those effects before randomly killing ones.

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