Science not Spite

 

This latest bite incident in WA should not enable the hysteria we have seen in the past from the WA government and their fisheries. Sharks deserve our science, not our spite. It is winter, and so it seems the encounters between sharks and ocean users in this part of the world increase. Let’s have science enlighten us as to why. Are these sharks following food sources? Is this a mating site? Are they seeking refuge inshore from migrating Orcas, their main predators besides us? Let’s find out. We can’t do that if we kill them. Science not spite please.  Heads need to be cooled and perspectives need to be engaged.  For example, there have been 14 deaths from shark bite in WA since 2000.  That is less than one per year.  Let me repeat that, that is less than an average of one per year.  I do not need to repeat the endless statistics of the death toll on humans of what cars, alcohol, cigarettes, homicide…cause do I? Chairs, yes, even chairs kill more of us.

On the flip side, WA fisheries killed 186 Tiger Sharks and now one protected Great White Shark in the span of 2 years in retaliation of these 14 deaths.  These shark deaths have been caused by spite and have not enlightened science.  The proof is out there that there is no such thing as a ‘rogue’ shark immortalised in the film “Jaws” which hangs around coastal areas waiting to feast on humans.  And yet, WA fisheries are basing their program on this fictional film from 1976 instead of the cutting edge science of 2016.  

As long as humans desire the use the ocean, they require the awareness that this is the home of others and we must learn to share.  The public overwhelmingly accept this.  Polls regularly show that Western Australians and Australians in general are vociferously opposed to killing sharks in response to bite incidents yet the WA government refuses to listen.  They instead choose to listen to a very small, loud and hysterical group of fishers and lobbyists who just want the excuse to go out and flex their fish killing muscles to catch and kill an endangered and protected species. It is past time that the WA government do listen to us.  Spite and fiction cannot continue to trump science.  The oceans simply cannot afford more loss.

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