I ask the Commonwealth Department of Environment to reject the Western Australia Government's proposal to continue the shark cull for the next three years.
The intended slaughter of 1,000 sharks off the South West coast of Australia is going to do more harm than good. Sharks play a vital role in the marine ecosystem, keeping it in balance and healthy. Scientists have articulated the belief that this cull is damaging to the environment but the WA Government has not listened. White Sharks, Whaler Sharks and Grey Nurse Sharks have been protected for a reason. So is giving people a false sense of safety worth the killing? Sharks are more aware, more intelligent and more interactive that I ever expected. After learning their behaviour, I don’t find them to be so threatening and scary, yet I don’t underestimate the danger represented by being in the ocean with one of the world biggest apex predators. After swimming with them on the ocean floor with no dive gear or protection I realized they are not interested in us as food, but as curiosities to interact with.
Decrease in large predatory sharks and other endangered species as by-catch means an increase of the species that they prey on. As large sharks decrease, rays, skates and small sharks will increase. This then means that the prey of these smaller animals will also decrease in numbers. This imbalance of the ecosystem then trickles down through the food chain, through every trophic level, which then effects local fisheries and communities that depend on a healthy and functional ocean to survive. Since the large sharks aren't present in order to keep the ecosystem in check, a healthy ecosystem will not be maintained. At the rate that sharks are being slaughtered around the world, we can't afford another 1,000 sharks to die.
Not only is this cull immoral, it is also illogical, with many problems that the WA Government is trying to play off as "successes." Great White sharks are suspected to be responsible for many fatal shark bites yet not a single great white was caught in the drum lines while tiger sharks make up 95% of the sharks that were caught when they have no history of fatal bites since 1929. The slaughter of any shark is cruel, but if the intention of the WA Government is public safety, this cull doesn't make sense since it doesn't successfully target the sharks that are responsible for fatal bites.
The WA Government claims that this cull was successful because it has made the public feel safer in the water but this claim is not supported by any surveys or evidence that this is the true public opinion. When there are so many Australians and beach-goers protesting along with scientists and people all over the world, it is hard to believe that the government is actually articulating the true opinions of its people.
Please consider the cost of losing these beautiful animals. My awe, respect and wariness will never go away when meeting these magnificent creatures, but the unnecessary fear has washed away in an ocean of appreciation for how amazing, interactive and important sharks are and that is exactly why this cull cannot continue.
To see amazing video of humans interacting with Tiger sharks peacefully please watch : https://vimeo.com/97732688
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