Thursday, May 8, 2014

Final Figures for W.A. Shark Cull Tells the Story

Greetings again everyone. Well I said if I found the figures for the West Australia Shark Cull that I would do a blog on them and low and behold a few days later I have found them. The figures that were released are, to me, quite disturbing and really tells the tale of this entire cull. So without further delay let us take a look at just how effective the West Australia Shark Cull was at catching it's intended catch (bull, great white, and tiger sharks).

Great white sharks: 0

Bull sharks: 1 (very small/released)

Northwest blowfish: 1 (not an intended catch)

Spinner sharks: 1 (not an intended catch)

Dusky whaler: 1 (not an intended catch)
A large gray shark swimming over sand and scattered rocks, being shadowed by a smaller fish with a horizontal stripe and a forked tail

Mako: 3 (not an intended catch. Unknown if shortfin or longfin)

Stingray: 7 (not an intended catch. Species not recorded)

Tiger sharks: 157

Really staggering numbers. So before I go any further. This is not the number of animals that were killed. Roughly 70% of the sharks that were caught during this cull were released due to being to small to fit the criteria for killing. We do know that some of those sharks did die after being released, but since we do not know the actual number, we will never truly know how many sharks were killed as a result of this cull. Now from looking at these numbers, one can effectively tell a story about this cull when looking at what was said at the start of the cull versus what actually happened during and it's results.

At the start of the cull, the government stated that only animals that were larger than 3 meters in length would be able to bite the hooks. Well. Considering that nearly 70% of the sharks caught were less than that 3 meters, I would consider that either ignorance or a flat out lie. I have a very hard time believing that a blowfish of all things would be able to bite a hook that was so big only monster sharks could bite it. Next. The West Australian Government wanted to catch and kill the ever dangerous great white sharks that were apparently prowling the waters like Jaws and just waiting for people to take a swim. They failed at that. Not a single great white was caught. On that same page, only 1 baby bull shark was caught and they were supposed to be all over the place too. Out of the three intended targets, only one was the cull successful at catching, the tiger shark. Again, the majority of these sharks were undersized, but still a good number of them were killed or died after being released. I've said it before and I will say it again. The tiger shark had no reason to be a part of this cull. Is it aggressive? Yes. Has it killed anyone in Australia in over 40 years? No. They have been cited in zero deaths for a long time now yet the West Australian Government chose to include them is this failure of a cull.

The story of this cull as it has been from the get go is that it is a government program that was specifically designed to try and relieve the fear that people have of sharks. It was an attempt to get people to come to the beaches of West Australia and know that you will not get bitten by a shark. It was an attempt to severely damage the populations of bull, tiger, and great whites that failed miserably with two of those three species. The tiger shark population has taken a hit. There is no way around it. When you have an animal that is very slow to mature let alone reproduce, it does not take much to start seeing their populations head south when they are being hunted down. Lastly it was a desperate attempt to increase tourism during a time of economic uncertainty. That's the kicker right there. How do you get people to the beaches? Make them feel safer. How do you make them feel safer? Kill the sharks. Do I think this cull actually helped tourism? Perhaps, but not in the way the W.A. government would have liked to have seen it. If anything I'd say the protesters coming from all over the place are the only thing that probably increased tourism. Frankly, the majority of people that are afraid of sharks that I have come in contact with still love to sit on the beach. They just stay out of the ocean.

As I have recently mentioned. W.A. is seeking to extend this program for another three years. That would be potentially completely catastrophic to the tiger shark populations in West Australia if this is allowed to happen. As we go through the summer months I will keep my eyes peeled for any news regarding the extension of this program. For now though I mourn the completely senseless loss 163 sharks that either died or had an absolutely horrific experience as a result of this cull and I thank those who were out on boats every day documenting this horrible event. West Australians for Shark Conservation and Sea Shepherd Australia are the two organizations that I followed throughout this cull and I thank them for all that they have done to bring images and video of this massacre to the world. Government of West Australia. I sincerely hope you feel a great sense of shame for this practice, but judging by your actions since the end of the cull, I'd say you have none.

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