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Shark cull outcry overreaction

The current shark cull is a politically challenging issue, but one where Colin Barnett is right to dig in because he has time and momentum on his side.

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Thanks Paul. I appreciate a rational and point-by-point approach to criticism: it is so much more civilised than abuse. Argue all you want about rising population and tourists (where are they???) but the people who have used the water for recreation have noticed the rise in shark activity and not overnight, its been increasing exponentially for the past decade (as have the attacks if you look at them) as the shark numbers have risen. Ask the surfers down south, some of the most green-tinged people I know, and they will tell you. It is not surprising that various board riders' association have asked for sharks to be culled. I have heard too many chilling accounts from divers, surfers and others who have long experience with the WA coast and have been scarred by recent events. This is not the result of a rising number of people using the water - although that does increase the chance of attacks, for sure. These are people whose experience over decades, as witnesses to what takes place in the water, know that there are simply a lot more big sharks around. Funnily enough, I spoke last week to a long connection of mine who is about my age. She was opposed to the shark cull until a helicopter literally shooed her and children out of the water down south. On the beach, when she saw the size and proximity of the shark, her opinion changed. Fortunately, the state government hasn't waited until more people have had close calls to act. Whether or not baited hooks works will need to be proven. But one of the great things about a federation is different states can do things differently. Queensland seems to have had some success with this strategy for decades, and it hasn't been condemned by Ricky Gervais or any other 'celebrity who picks up a placard and a cause on a 20m red carpet walk. How informed. I won't address every point you made, however in referring to attacking a fisherman I didn't mean physically. I also won't get into how much this is all about the Greens preparing for a senate battle Mk II in WA. Thanks.

Thanks again for your rational and considered contribution. I agree that the Qld stats can be a little overdone - the single death figure cited is in relation to beaches that have drum line/net protection - so its not comparing like with like. From the stats I have seen (hard to get - try this http://sharkattackfile.info/- but i have yet to verify) shark fatalities in Qld in recorded history are 69 prior in approx 99 years before 1962 when nets/drum lines were introduced and 30 in the 51 years hence. Sneak in a 'bit' of population growth and burgeoning ocean-based recreation (including the advent of whole international tourism industry) and I reckon the numbers fall pretty well in favour of the protection argument. As for tourism ... the hotels and airports have been full of visitors, no doubt, but the word tourist is as absent from that document. That is because 'visitors' encompasses many people coming for work (eg conventions) or visiting friends and family (VFR as the industry calls it). Perhaps I ought to make it clear that I am all for protecting species, including GWS, I just no longer believe it is threatened and, therefore, I favour culling. A variety of methods might be needed and they ought to be given a chance to show they work.

I was always led to believe that ignorance was bliss?

Perth
Quite an embarrassing article from an otherwise respected Business News. Why this was published is a mystery.

Como
Funny how we "cull" the human race with little or no protest (in fact often the opposite) and yet we have this great outcry over sharks. Me thinks that there is a far greater issue to consider.

The Shark Drum Lines , yes or no aside; The Premier has probably made a wrong call politically on this one due to the Mainstream Media sensationalising the issue out of all proportion. A number of people I have spoken to never go to the beach let alone swim there are using this as a vehicle to voice their displeasure @ the Liberal coalition because they voted for the left.

Al
".. for other reasons.." I see. Thank you for damaging the move. haha

Perth
Thank you Barnett! It works in Queensland and I suspect it will work in WA. We will never know for sure but if it saves one life it will be worth it. I wonder if removing the Great White from the endangered list is in order? Every fisherman I know considers them far more common than ever before.

Perth
It is a tragedy when someone is killed, no matter how. It is gruesome when someone is mauled by a shark under any circumstance. It is horrific when a child is disfigured by a dog, a friend is killed by a drunk driver, when the jaws of life need to pry open a car to extract them human remnants of a son or daughter. If as a state we are to continue with the stance we currently have on sharks it should also follow that we remove the most endangered drivers from the road. Those under 25. Will we do this? Lets have a grown up response to this issue and understand that surfing and the use of our beautiful coastline comes at a very small risk, otherwise lets cull crocs in the north, net jellyfish, ban smoking and drinking (cancer causes) and the list goes on. Enjoy and respect what mother earth provides, but always treat your environment with the respect it deserves, or endure the consequences.

It might be that there is a simple solution to all of this. Perhaps the protesters could consider using their skills and time more effectively. My suggestion is that they could organise themselves to patrol our beaches 24/7 and shoo away any sharks that get too close for comfort. There seems to be no shortage of potential volunteers (ie pro-shark activists) and they seem to have some very good organisers, who have excellent media skills, and a strong ability to communicate widely and rally the troops. So it would seem that it should not be too hard for them to get together and do something that might actually be useful. The State Government could step back completely and leave it to the protesters to deal with the problem. There would be no need to spend public money, the sharks would be protected and so would the public. The protesters would be contributing to society by providing a useful community service, and they would get the satisfaction of really doing some good. Seems like a win, win situation to me.

Congratulations Colin Barnett on taking action and sticking to your decision despite the obvious media bias. This 'story' is about a fish on a hook which happens millions of times around the world each day. The question the Greens find hard to answer is at what point should we do something (apart from education). We had 7 shark deaths in the past 3 years and should we start doing something when that hits 50, 500 or 5,000 deaths per year? They refuse to answer it because their ideology states that humans should be put last in every scenario. Having 0.002% of the WA population (the extreme left 'rent a crowd') turn up at Cottesloe beach on a hot day does not warrant a change in a policy designed to protect the public nor does a placard passed to a comedian on a red carpet. The Greens are touting this as a significant victory in public opinion after the loss of 3.1% of the vote at the last federal election however fail to mention that this policy has been effective in Queensland since the 1960's.

Al
I'm surprised no one is protesting against cockroaches cull on my back yard. These species are so vulnerable when I'm using the poison. If you are guys so protective agains shark level control then offer another cost-effective solution to protect people when they go to the Ocean for a swim. Suggestions like "don't go" leave for yourself.

Floreat
Thank you Mark for putting some rationality into the debate. The argument I have been using with cull protestors has been that we are only trying to protect a small proportion of our coast line. How could that truly impact overall shark numbers. I just don't understand their anger. It is so irrational and misplaced, egged on by some truly staggering exaggerations by the professional protesters and typical rent-a-crowd.. Thankfully Colin knows that the vast majority of people support him. The losers in this debacle are Mr. McGowan, as he has sided with the Greens again rather than the average bloke who just wants to be safe when he is at the beach. When the chai drinking Fremantle crowd have gone on to the next thing to protest about, the average man and woman will look at Colin and see a guy who stuck by his idea (even if it could be better communicated) rather than sided with some irrational exuberant protesters or did a back flip to appease a small sub-group.

Not sure its a left/right thing. Its more of a illogical expensive and frankly cruel thing versus a recognition that we venture into their world when we swim, surf and in very small numbers get caught by them. Think the money could be better spent o any number of programs with better outcomes.

South Australia
Can you please tell me where you get your fact that there are more sharks now? The scientific research I have seen seems to show the opposite. Here is some information from the CSIRO. http://csiro.au/en/Outcomes/Oceans/Marine-Life/Sharks-index-page/White-shark-facts-index/white-shark-fact-4_numbers.aspx . I must saw that if we wait another 6 months then it will only be 4 deaths in the last 3 years. I just can't fathom why people have such fear of sharks when the chances of a shark death is so low. Could it be from watching the movie "Jaws"?

Perth
I live on the northern beaches if Perth,mI ocean swim most days, I scuba dive and surf most weekends. I AM AGINST THE CULLING OF SHARKS ,,

Noting the individual Sharks targeted are known to have territories over 100,000 square kilometres and the baits are laid in a couple of square kilometres near beaches close to Perth, it's hard to see how the killing of a small number of sharks will reduce the risk. Let's face it, the concerns over the sharks has mainly come from the action of the shark fin fishers in south east asia, and the emotion reaction to the wastage of the majority of the beast while only cutting off the "worthless to western sensibilities" of the sharks dorsal fin. So while it's unlikely our governments political will save a single life, it is unlikely that the death of 20 or so sharks will make much of a difference to the breeding populations. So my opinion is the government should invest the money in drones that will detect sharks in the shallows and a warning system that works that alerts swimmers and surfers to leave the water until the threat departs.

Intelligent and relevant remarks Ing. Stephen, I wish more balanced and non-emotive discourse was had on subjects such as these.

Perth
So, Mark, correct me if I am wrong, but the thrust of your statement was that sharks wre hnted to very low numbers, then we developed a taste for playin in the ocean, then became concious that is was wrong to slaughter sharks, numbers regained ground, and now we have what is 'more normal' shark numbers, and as a consquence of this and our extended time in the ocean, now have more attacks? It sounds as if you are saying the number of attacks now is more what should be the norm. Bu it also sounds as if your solution to the norm, is to kill more sharks???

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