Target: Western Australia State Premier Colin Barnett
Goal: Shut down the plan that approves the killing of Great White Sharks off the West Australian coast
Five fatal shark attacks have occurred in Western Australia within the past year. Great White Sharks have been a protected species in Australia for some time, but the recent attacks have caused pressure from the public resulting in the newly announced “shark mitigation strategies.” The new policy is advertised as being a part of an effort to reduce attacks, as well as include further shark studies, a fisheries department service which will track and kill sharks, more jet skis, and GPS programs.
Environmental organizations have been quick to point out that although the new policy presents benefits as far as increased patrols and research, the green-light on shark killing is itself vague and cruel. Whereas in the past sharks were only allowed to be killed after they showed aggression through attacks, the new policy merely states that sharks will be killed upon “posing an imminent threat”, or for being too close to the beach.
Tim Nicol of the Conservation Council of Western Australia puts it adequately when he states that “…plans to kill sharks that approach beaches applies a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ approach to sharks and is a knee-jerk reaction to public concern…” State premier Colin Barnett’s justification for the plan is merely “This is, after all, a fish – let’s keep it in perspective.” Such reasoning is inadequate, as the new laws will now allow arbitrary animal killing against animals who are merely inhabiting their environment. Demand that the new policy be revoked and that Great White Sharks be allowed to thrive in peace. Mass murder of what is being considered a newly endangered species is not the answer.
Dear Mr. Barnett,
You recently announced the implementation of a new policy which would allow a fisheries department to kill any sharks that get too close to the beach and pose an “imminent threat” to beachgoers. The effort to protect your people is commendable, as are other aspects of the policy including research funds and patrols. However, the “blind justice” that the policy allows in terms of shark mass murder is an inappropriate response to public panic, and a gross twisting of Australia’s longstanding protection of a newly endangered species. Such an easy condemnation of the species harkens back to shark mania of decades past, and is an illustration of caving in to outdated values.
You have stated, “This is, after all, a fish — let’s keep it in perspective.” To keep things in perspective would be to admit that these “fish” are just that — merely fish inhabiting their natural habitat and passing through areas which are, for all intents and purposes, their homes. Further keeping of perspective would suggest that it is in fact the human beachgoers who need to employ greater awareness. This would be more easily done in conjunction with the aforementioned research and tracking which the policy affords. Continue the push for increased patrols and studies. But please, reconsider the acceptance of widespread killing in the name of beach enjoyment.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: 126 Club via Flickr