After San Francisco joined several other cities around the world in opposition, White Shark Video edited a piece using footage from collaborators across the globe to poke fun at the madness of "Cullin" Barnett and his crew. Popular sentiment at the moment is that Barnett would rather please his wealthy political friends than listen to public outcry, science, reason, or common sense. It makes me very concerned for the future when in an age where information is more accessible than ever, we seem to be taking steps backwards.
Using baited hooks near popular beaches to reduce the threat of sharks is enough of a mind melting concept to stop the plan alone. However, it gets better. This carefully thought out and humane plan is so far guilty of the following:
The Natal Sharks Board in South Africa seems to have a lot in common with Barnett's Administration. For one, NTS is a government supported shark killing machine targeting the very species it lists as a protected species, the great white shark. Secondly, scientific reasoning is thrown to the wayside in this stretch of beaches in Durban, much like in the specific areas now in Australia's spotlight. What do they have in common? Big tourism money, In other words, sharks are dying in order to fulfill the placebo effect of a safer beach in the minds of would-be dollar spenders.
The policy is so corrupt that NTS ignores its own data, yet this is who Barnett looked to for consultation (looking outside the borders of his own country in doing so). Data collected by the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board shows the bycatch from drum lining — which causes fatalities among small whales, dolphins, marine turtles and other endangered and innocent species — outnumbers the target catch by 5 to 1. Even when the large numbers of sharks are removed from the ocean, as took place in Hawaii in the 1960s and ’70s when nearly 4,700 sharks were culled, the approach fails to produce a measurable decrease in attacks.
Some experts are even warning that drum lines will increase the number of shark attacks. “Whenever you put bait in the water, you always risk bringing something to the area that was not there before,” says Nathan Hart, an associate professor at the University of Western Australia’s School of Animal Biology.
The most controversial aspect of the Western Australia plan is that it targets, among other species, the iconic great white shark. With great whites protected in Australia as an endangered species (due to a low rate of reproduction that makes them vulnerable to population collapse), there are thought to be fewer than 3,500 of them left in the ocean.
Editing by Skyler Thomas
All video footage shot by White Shark Video except for Blair Ranford's footage that was kindly donated Shayne Thompson as well as the "tiger shark cam footage" donated by Eli Martines of Shark Diver Magazine. Thanks to Shark Stewards, Earth Island Institute, Meaghan McCord Gray, Kent Stannard, WASC, Maarten Josef Billen, Fin Free Melbourne, and all the protesters for your collaboration.
Music by BSOD, I take no credit for it.
Debra Canabal of Epic Diving in the WSV hoodie. Get yours!
About the Author
Skyler Thomas is the primary blog contributor, cinematographer, and lead editor at White Shark Video.