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Perth Shark “Shoot to Kill” Response

written by Monique Fallows

Posted on Thursday, 27 October 2011

Many of us are horrified to hear about the “shoot to kill” order made by authorities in Western Australia after the recent shark attacks. Authorities may for the moment access any shark sighting and if they feel it is a threat to water users, they may kill that animal. Quite frankly I am surprised at the response from Australian authorities which is certainly backward and out dated. 

 

In South Africa sharks are still a very emotive topic but I do feel that public perception is changing and the authorities in Cape Town have employed a number of non-invasive measures in order for water users and sharks to co-exist as well as possible.

 

It must be remembered that a Great White Shark is a predator and at the top of the food chain. Hunting is what it is programed to do. Humans are not on their radar in terms of prey but accidents do happen sometimes. After all, people make mistakes all the time. We do not have the death penalty in South Africa and neither does Australia. I’d say that is pretty arrogant thinking that a shark that is simply thought to be posing a threat can now be killed. Why not just close the beaches!

We all have opinions and you can now make yourself heard in 2 very easy ways:

  1. You can write directly to the Premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett cottesloe@mp.wa.gov.au as well as Fisheries Minister, Norman Moore, minister.moore@dpc.wa.gov.au.
  2. Sign the Petition http://www.thepetitionsite.com/4/stop-the-shark-cull/, nearly 9,000 people have done so already. Make sure to read the great info provided on why sharks should not be culled and what the alternatives are.

Both of these only take a couple of minutes, just a bit longer than to “like” a post!

 

In South Africa comments after a shark attack are often made by uninformed individuals that shark numbers are on the increase and that chumming causes shark attacks. I thought you would all be interested to read some comments from Chris Fallows below ,as I am sure these self-same ideas are being expressed in Australia right now.

It must be remembered that a Great White Shark is a predator and at the top of the food chain. Hunting is what it is programmed to do.

In South Africa comments after a shark attack are often made by uninformed individuals that shark numbers are on the increase and that chumming causes shark attacks. I thought you would all be interested to read some comments from Chris Fallows below ,as I am sure these self-same ideas are being expressed in Australia right now.

“Since 1995 we’ve worked with the Great Whites at Seal Island, False Bay conducting 1608 trips to the Island and 40+ trips inshore off Macassar and Strandfontein between 1995-2000 . 

Detailed data on every individual sighting of a white shark and predatory activity has been documented.

 

According to what we have actually seen and recorded there has not been an increase in Great White Sharks and the data in fact shows a slight decrease. We are seeing increasing evidence of white sharks that have been hooked or damaged by human activity and stories of poaching are rife. Numbers are not increasing based on hard facts and data and not hearsay. 

Contrary to popular belief, the Great White Shark is a rare animal, with estimates of 2000-3000 left in the world’s oceans. 

False Bay , Dyer Island and Mossel Bay in South Africa are the species global stronghold. The erection of nets or any other method to kill them would unquestionably have a severe impact on the species and eco-system as a whole.

 

Reasons such as chumming, trek netting and rogue sharks causing shark attacks are often suggested. The irony is that chumming from boats be it cage diving or fishing, attracts sharks away from the beaches to the boats. Shark cage diving operations at Seal Island do not feed sharks and in the course of a 150 trips per season use around 300kg of bait per operator to attract them, often unsuccessfully. In fact we recognize a few individuals on natural predatory events that simply never come to the boats.

 

Since 2000 the False Bay shark diving operators have not operated during the Mid-September to  Mid-April period, due to lack of sharks at Seal Island. Historically this period of our inactivity corresponds with the highest shark attack activity in the peninsula. Ironically during the 1995-2000 periods that we did work inshore off the Macassar and Strandfontein areas there was not a single incident in our area.  

 

During the summer months from 1989-2010 we regularly worked with trek fishermen off Strandfontein beaches releasing thousands of sharks and rays of all species. In the past 10 years there was a 90% + decrease in capture of these smaller species in the nets. The reason for this is increased commercial shark fishing. 

My point is,  during the Summer months  each year white sharks move inshore and do this in all locations where they occur, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, California, Chatham, it is not unique to False Bay.

 

One of the primary reasons is to feed on other sharks and rays. Until recently the reefs off  Macassar, Strand, Wofgat and Strandfontein teemed with smooth hounds, spotted gulley, bronze whalers and other small sharks. Today they are almost gone. By all means build bigger tidal pools but surely the resurrection of a healthy ecosystem with a large prey base of smaller species, that would self-limit the movement of white sharks  as opposed to “just kill them all“  is a better way forward for all ?”

Many people who work with sharks and have seen the changes over the years are of the opinion that increased shark/human encounters can almost directly be linked to our own mis management of the eco system.

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Conservation

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