SAY NO TO SMART DRUMLINES IN WA AND YES TO MEASURES THAT PROTECT OUR COMMUNITY AND SHARKS!
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The Western Australian Government are planning to trial S.M.A.R.T (Shark Management Alert Real Time) drumlines in January 2019 (in Gracetown for at least 12 months) which will attract, hook and relocate sharks. This is in response to calls to reduce shark risk and protect the local economy. The key target species is the protected Great White Shark.
Why we are opposing S.M.A.R.T DRUMLINES (SDLs): There is no evidence that using SDLs to relocate sharks increases safety overall, and there is concern that attracting sharks with baits will increase risk to ocean users. Most Australians do NOT support the use of lethal shark risk mitigation strategies, and SDLs are potentially lethal. Sharks are critical for the health of our oceans, and if WA sharks perish due to SDLs, this puts their numbers and our environment at further risk. Citizens are worried that this action will be expanded and ultimately lead to an intentionally lethal campaign, similar to the one implemented in 2014. There are also concerns that using drastic measures will reinforce the view that sharks are “monsters” that “stalk” humans when a more responsible and realistic message should be conveyed.
What we want the WA Government to do: Wait for reliable evidence from the NSW trials that SDLs increase safety and protect sharks before considering their use in WA. Better promote shark repellents that have scientific backing by offering higher rebates, and support developers efforts to refine this technology further. Trial other systems that do not risk the environment including the Ocean Guardian BEACH01, the Sharksafe Barrier, and Shark Spotters, and install shark trauma medical kits at beaches. Address the issues of whale carcasses, salmon, seals, and cray pots in attracting sharks and provide more warning signs about the risks. Address the issue of lost revenue in communities temporarily affected by incidents by investing in new tourism ventures. Do more to correct negative misperceptions by educating the public about the critical role of sharks in our environment, and the small risk they pose to ocean users.
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S.M.A.R.T DRUMLINES (SDLs) TO MITIGATE SHARK RISK ARE BEING OPPOSED FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:
SDLs LACK EVIDENCE: There is no proof from similar operations worldwide that relocating sharks to another area is reducing the number of shark incidents overall. For instance, in Recife, Brazil, relocating sharks has been associated with an increase in attacks in adjacent areas suggesting that the risk is simply being shifted. Crucially, the NSW trial has been underway for over 2 years and has not released any evidence that SDLs have increased safety for ocean users. We are concerned that SDLs will create a false sense of security only.
SDLs COULD INCREASE RISK: There is concern that attracting sharks with baits will increase risk to beach users, or, if the SDLs were effective for beach users, these would not provide any protection to deeper ocean users such as divers who are at increased risk. It should be noted that swimmers of the 2014 Rottnest Channel Swim demanded that baited drumlines be removed just before the event due to concerns about sharks being attracted to the area and posing a risk.
AUSTRALIANS DO NOT WANT LETHAL MEASURES: The majority of Australians surveyed do NOT support the use of lethal shark risk mitigation strategies. SDLs are potentially lethal even when the operation is conducted properly, and especially so when it is not conducted properly. Sharks may appear to be stable upon release, but can ultimately succumb to stress, hook or tag injuries over time.
OUR OCEAN ENVIRONMENT IS UNDER THREAT: Sharks (especially large sharks), are critical for the health of our oceans. 90% of shark populations worldwide have been decimated, and if WA sharks (in particular the protected Great White) perish due to SDLs, this puts their numbers and our environment at further risk.
THERE ARE CONCERNS THAT THIS ACTION WILL BE EXPANDED AND ULTIMATELY LEAD TO AN INTENTIONALLY LETHAL CAMPAIGN similar to the one implemented in 2014 by Premier Barnett, which could have devastating consequences for the marine environment.
SHARKS ARE BEING DEMONISED: Utilising extreme shark hazard mitigation measures reinforces the negative view that sharks are “monsters” who “lurk”, “stalk” and “prey” on humans, and that something must be done. This portrayal is irresponsible as it exaggerates the risk, and puts sharks in danger of further decline.
WE REQUEST THAT THE STATE GOVERNMENT DO THE FOLLOWING:
WAIT FOR SOLID EVIDENCE FROM NSW THAT SDLs INCREASE SAFETY AND PROTECT SHARKS before considering their use in WA.
BETTER PROMOTE TECNHOLOGY THAT DOES HAVE SCIENTIFIC BACKING by offering a higher rebate when purchasing approved shark repellent devices (Shark Shield and Ocean Guardian), and by including other promising repellents in the rebate scheme such as the Rpela. The government should also support developers of approved devices to further refine the technology especially for surfers.
PROVIDE A MORE TIMELY RESPONSE TO THE REMOVAL OF WHALE CARCASSES THAT ARE KNOWN TO ATTRACT SHARKS and provide signage about this risk. In addition, address the issue of migrating salmon and seals as well cray pot use for attracting sharks by creating appropriate warning signs.
TRIAL OTHER SYSTEMS THAT DO NOT RISK THE ENVIRONMENT such as the Ocean Guardian BEACH01, the Sharksafe Barrier, and Shark Spotters. In addition, increase relevant warning signs at all beaches, and install shark trauma medical kits at remote beaches. Consider the Eco Shark Barrier for suitable beaches.
INVEST IN NEW TOURISM VENTURES especially in communities whose revenue is affected temporarily by shark incidents. These could include responsible shark tourism options that have been an economic boon for other coastal communities around the world.
DO MORE TO COUNTER NEGATIVE STEREOTYPES ABOUT SHARKS by conveying a more constructive, moderate, and realistic message. This could include education about the small risk that sharks pose to ocean users compared to greater risks such as drowning, in addition to the importance of sharks for the health of our ocean environment.
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