Western Australia has announced a decision to cull its protected great white sharks. Shark Savers has sent this letter to urge them to stop.
If you agree that WA should not cull their great whites, send an email and sign a petition to WA politicians using the links at the bottom of this page.
Premier Colin Barnett
24th Floor, Governor Stirling Tower
197 St Georges Terrace
PERTH WA 6000
Dear Premier Barnett,
Re: The proposed culling of great white sharks in Western Australia should be stopped
It is understandable that the Western Australia government wants to protect its citizens in light of the recent and unprecedented number of fatalities reportedly involving great white sharks in Western Australia. However, the culling of the sharks will not accomplish the goal. Shark Savers, an international conservation organization, urges you to consider more effective options.
Removing sharks from the water does not assure water-user safety.
Evidence from tracking data indicates that, in South Africa, great white sharks are frequently inshore when water-users are most abundant without incident (Kock and Johnson 2006).
When we humans enter the ocean to swim, we step out of our domain into the wild habitat of sharks. Water-user safety involves many factors, the most relevant of those relating to the skill of the swimmer and the conditions of the ocean. One of the more rare factors in water-user safety is the potential for unintended interaction of humans and sharks.
Culling sharks is not effective.
There is no evidence that culling sharks protects people or that killing many sharks kills the individual shark responsible for the incident. Over US$ 300,000 was spent to cull sharks in Hawaii as part of a shark control program without any resulting reduction in the number of shark bites (Wetherbee et al. 1994). Policy responses to shark bites need to evolve and align better with steady public support for great white shark populations, even after an incident, and the public’s confidence in non-lethal beach protection measures (Neff and Jang 2012).
Shark spotting programs are effective.
Western Australia would be better served by implementing a portfolio of initiatives to reduce the incidence of unintended human/shark encounters. Non-extractive shark safety programs such as South Africa’s highly successful Shark Spotters trains individuals to spot sharks from shore and to alert swimmers when sharks are present. Aerial shark spotting can augment this. Innovative tagging and real-time tracking methods can locate sharks to provide an additional layer of spotting. We note that WA’s plans call for helicopter surveillance and satellite tags and receivers, both of which may be applicable to this approach.
Further research is needed to understand great white shark movement and behavior patterns. We cannot change shark behavior, but we can mitigate risk and change human behavior by synthesizing what is learned through science and applying that to education and outreach efforts. Combining all of these methods would be a preferable method to reduce human to shark interaction.
Great white sharks should be protected, not killed.
Great white sharks have become one of the most iconic and protected marine species in the world for a multitude of good reasons. Great white sharks:
In summary, Great white sharks are recognized worldwide to be an endangered species, are critically important to the health of the oceans, and fundamentally belong to the world’s oceans, not just to Western Australia. Fisheries managers, too, should be concerned about the potential negative consequences of removing these apex predators from the ecosystem as their livelihood would be damaged if economically important species are lost as a result.
The culling of sharks will erode Australia's hard-won reputation as a leader in protecting the marine environment. The world’s people are becoming increasingly educated as to how important many shark species are to the healthy balance of our oceans. For many, the culling could be perceived as a political and emotional lashing out at an important and endangered species in a way that does not solve the problem. And, international organizations such as Shark Savers are paying a great deal of attention to Western Australia’s actions in this matter.
We urge you to stop the proposed culling of the great white sharks.
Michael Skoletsky, Executive Director
And the Shark Savers team.
cc: Fisheries Minister Norman Moore, Fisheries Department Director General Stuart Smith,
Environment Minister Bill Marmion
Scientific references can be viewed, at the bottom of this page.
Premier Colin Barnett: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fisheries Minister Norman Moore: Minister.Moore@dpc.wa.gov.au
Environment Minister Bill Marmion: Minister.Marmion@dpc.wa.gov.au
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