Target: Colin Barnett, Premier of Western Australia
Goal: Avoid unnecessary shark deaths by using non-lethal shark deterrent devices
The Western Australia government recently announced plans to kill sharks that come too close to shore. In a frantic effort to reduce the increasing frequency of attacks, commercial fishermen will be hired to catch and kill sharks that enter zones near populated tourist beaches.
Western Australia has seen six fatal shark attacks over the past two years, an apparent increase from previous years. Rather than exploring non-fatal shark deterrent methods, the government has chosen to kill the sharks, some species of which are critically endangered. Commercial fishing boats will be hired to patrol beach zones to catch large sharks such as great whites, bring them aboard, and kill them. Baited drum lines will be set to hook other sharks, which most often drown due to a lack of mobility.
The Western Australia coast is home to many vulnerable, endangered, and critically endangered shark species, including great whites, grey nurse sharks, mako sharks, as well as speartooth and other sharks. These sharks also face threats from coastal development, depletion of food fish by commercial fisheries, pollution, and the shark-fin market. Some species have seen a 90% decline in population over the past 25 years, while decreases of 70% are quite common. Evidence shows that due to the long life and infrequent reproduction raters of some species, such as great whites, killing a single shark of breeding maturity is harmful to the population.
Measures do need to be taken to reduce shark attacks, but it is important to look at a long-term fix rather than a short-term emergency patch. Research should be conducted as to why sharks are moving closer inland and becoming bolder around humans, and a solution should be found to the root of the problem.
Until then, there are many effective and non-fatal shark deterrent methods available. Underwater devices emit an electric signal which deters sharks by interfering with their electroreceptor organs. A wall of high-intensity air bubbles would interfere with the shark’s ability to detect water movement, while light and sound deterrents are also available.
It is vital that while the Western Australia government tries to save human lives, they do not forsake their humanity in the process. Sharks are intelligent, sentient creatures in real danger of extinction, and a solution should be found that reduces harm to both sharks and humans. Ask that the Western Australia government consider non-fatal methods of shark attack reduction.
Dear Colin Barnett, Premier of Western Australia,
The Western Australia government has recently announced drum lines and commercial fishing as shark attack reduction measures near popular beaches. These fatal deterrent methods threaten endangered and critically endangered shark species, some of which have seen population reductions of 90% over the past 25 years.
A more effective way to curb the attacks would be to research the reason the attacks are increasing and work from the root of the issue. During that time, there are effective and non-fatal deterrent devices available that employ the use of electric fields, bubbles, light, and sound.
I ask that you consider these methods, which reduce harm to both sharks and humans, rather than an unsustainable emergency fix such as killing the sharks.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Terry Goss via Creative Commons