Abandon the shark cull, please!

Nathan Morton was elected to represent the seat of Forrestfield at the last WA State election. This means he is supposed to be my representative in State Parliament. Which means that I can bring things to his attention that I think need to be paid attention to.
The proposed shark cull in Western Australia is something that I think should be less about vengeance against creatures who were ‘doing their thing’ and tragically taking the lives of two people enjoying their lives ‘doing their thing’ right where those hungry animals where being, well, hungry!

It doesn’t make the loss of life any less sad, and not to dismiss lightly that loss either, but unless there is sound evidence (and I don’t mean ‘goodness me, there’s a triangular fin in the water’) that a particular shark is making a habit of eating people instead of seals, what good does killing hundreds of other sharks, or other aquatic creatures who will be caught and killed by the proposed drum-line hooks, do then?

If people want to dress up like seals in wetsuits and enjoy surfing and diving in places where sharks also go hunting for their dinner, then surely it is the responsibility of the people involved to be aware of their risks?

As far as I can tell, the only ones interested in this shark cull are the politicians, and I’m sure there are many more deaths that they would have a better chance of doing something about or averting than attempting to take pot-shots at big hungry fish!

So, this is the letter I have just sent to my representative:

Dear Mr Morton

It is with increasing dismay that I note the pleas of scientists, fishermen, surf-riders and others who are familiar with the sea-coast, are being ignored by the current government with regards to the proposed “shark cull”.

All human deaths at sea are tragic — but this knee-jerk response is scientifically unproven and pushes already vulnerable species to the brink, not to mention affecting other species lower down the food chain by removing top predators. In the end it will also affect the livelihoods of fishermen and enjoyment of the oceanic environment, as has been seen in other places around the world.

Culling sharks is merely a cosmetic solution to the problem of shark attacks. Public education and shark avoidance are measures with long-lasting effects that will ensure the co-existence of sharks and humans. Non-invasive methods such as aerial patrols have been proven to work in minimising the already small chance of a shark attack. In the long-term, these measures will probably prove less costly than shooting sharks that may not have taken a bite out of a human.

It is only an hysteria-driven populist reaction by this government that is proposing such an expensive, ultimately useless, and unscientific cull.

It would be far more cost effective to educate West Australians as to the risks, allowing those who desire the liberty and responsibility of swimming with sharks the privilege of doing so.

As my representative in the West Australian parliament I expect you to present my request to Premier Barnett that this shark cull be abandoned and more effective and long-lasting educational action be provided, based on information from the Department of Fisheries – who I have to note, have not yet let the tender for the cull as of today’s date, 8th January 2014.

Kind regards,

Your employer

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