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It is with great frustration, anger and sadness that I begin this blog I find myself in a country, Australia, that has decided to flout international law and hunt an endangered species, The Great White Shark, along with many other species of sharks, our oldest companions on Earth. Sharks are a vital part of the healthy balance of oceans. They have been here for about 400 million years and our found in all oceans from the poles to the equator. They are a much maligned creature due to a number of factors, the foremost being irrational fear and ignorance.
The protests and anger over the Western Australia shark cull has shown that I am far from alone in my grief. People around the world are realising that sharks deserve to be here just as much if not more so than us. They have been here longer and contribute significantly to the health of not just the oceans, but the entire planet. Our evolution is directly linked to them – our swallow mechanism evolved from theirs, so how ironic when Chinese people swallow their shark fin soup, they have their dinner to thank for it.
90% of the world’s sharks have been fished out and for a living being which has a slow reproductive rate similar to a mammal’s, this is catastrophic and may be irreversible. Why then are governments so out of touch with public sentiment and environmental sensitivities? Again, the words irrational fear and ignorance come up but also, probability neglect. Probability neglect is a psychological term for an irrational response to a minimal chance of danger. This is a well-documented phenomena and the wonderful campaign ‘Re-think the Shark’ demonstrates it well.
So, where do we go from here? How do we get the Western Australian government to acknowledge its probability neglect when addressing what it sees as a major threat? How do we stop Chinese people from eating shark fin soup and stop countries like Australia from supplying them with the shark fins? Watch this space….