14 January 2014 - TWO-LEGGED SHARKS


G'day folks,

You know I’m Australian, right? I live in a whopping country – the driest continent on earth, but one with some magnificent beaches. However, although we are known for many things, such as our sporting prowess, we do have some failings; serious ones. Today I feature another sad story about politicians. Yep, a 'great' decision from those paid to govern. What’s it about? It’s about sharks off the coast of Western Australia - the ones that live in the ocean, not the two-legged ones who supposedly make decisions on our behalf. 

West Australian Premier, Colin Barnett, and his cohorts have defended a plan for sharks to be shot and disposed of at sea if they come within one kilometre of the coast. However, thousands of people have rallied against Premier Colin Barnett’s plan to bait and kill sharks off the Western Australian coast.  

Mr Barnett joined Fisheries Minister Ken Baston at Trigg Beach on Friday morning to discuss the policy.

"I realised that many people object to the catching of sharks, the government has taken this measure after long consideration, it wasn't a knee-jerk reaction. We've been looking at this for some time." 

As part of the plan, any great white shark, tiger shark or bull shark greater than three metres caught by fishers in the state government's "kill zones" will be killed. Under the plan, baited lines will be deployed one kilometre off the coast in a bid to catch sharks that near popular beaches and surf breaks.

On Friday, Mr Barnett and Mr Baston announced the locations of eight popular WA beaches where controversial baited drum lines will be deployed.

The lines will be set in the next few weeks, costing about $1 million. 

Mr Barnett said the government worked with Surf Life Saving WA to identify widely used beaches where there have been a 'significant' number of shark sightings.

There will be up to 72 drum lines deployed in stages over the January to April period.

The Department of Premier and Cabinet is calling for tenders from commercial fishers to carry out the "management, release of by-catch, retention or disposal of the targeted catch and 12 hour patrols of drum line areas."

The successful tenderer will be required to deploy baited drum lines and patrol and maintain them for 12 hours each day between 6am and 6pm seven days a week within specified zones.

Any sharks meeting the size and species requirements will be shot and "taken offshore" to be discarded.

According to the tender documents sharks will be "humanely destroyed" with a "firearm." Other animals will be released alive "where possible." Yeah, right.

"Any animals which are dead, or considered not in a condition to survive, are to be humanely destroyed, tagged and taken offshore for disposal."

The tenderer will also be required to act as a "rapid response" unit when required.

While the Premier has been reluctant to call the plan to kill sharks a 'cull', some scientists say that is exactly what it is. Western Australian conservationists claim the move could actually increase the risk of shark attacks and could also harm other animals caught as a by-catch.

Synchronised protests against WA’s new shark policy are planned across all states and territories on January 4. One recent protest passed peacefully, with protesters carrying banners reading "Cullin Barnett" and chanted "two, four, six, eight - we don't want your bloody bait". Speakers included organiser Natalie Banks, Western Australians for Shark Conservation (WASC), Sea Shepherd and the Conservation Council of WA.

Campaigners vowed to continue their fight against the $1m catch-and-kill policy, with a second rally planned for February 1. Politicians from the Greens and Labor reiterated their opposition to the shark drum lines, which will be deployed from January 10.

The State Government will next week award the contract to commercial fishers to maintain and patrol up to 72 lines off beaches in Perth and the South-West.  Great white, tiger and bull sharks over three metres long taken by the lines will be shot and discarded at sea.

WASC and Sea Shepherd also called on recreational boaters to take out their vessels to document evidence of dead sharks.

The drum line policy was announced following the death of surfer and father-of-two Chris Boyd, who was attacked and killed near Gracetown in November.

 Premier Colin Barnett

 A real shark. 
Can you spot the difference? 

Clancy’s comment: 

I am sure the Premier and his colleagues forget one thing: humans are swimming in the shark's backyard. Also, what about turtles and other sea creatures that may be maimed or killed by these monstrous hooks?

If a shark slips past the hooks and bait and nips a fetlock of a surfer or gobbles up a human, we have just blown a million dollars that could have been spent on homeless kids or hospitals. It staggers me that some humans think they can control everything – even the ocean. This country has been surrounded by ocean since 'white boat people' arrived on the 26th of January 1788. So, what's new?

What have I and others done? We have written to the Premier and his deputy and told them to back off; politely of course. Well,  I was slightly cheeky which is not like me at all. I mooted that not all sharks live in the sea. Some wear suits and call themselves politicians. However, there is a big difference. The real sharks do what they are supposed to do; not pretend to do, so leave the genuine sharks alone. Their integrity and future is not for sale, or for slaughter.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a 'pollie basher' per se. If a politician does make a gutsy decision based on common sense, or one that is good for the people who elected him / her, I will applaud it. Sadly, no such decisions come to mind. Strange about that, eh?  

By the way, how close have I been to a real shark? Good question. Answer: within a metre of a whopping big shark. I was six metres below the surface on a very isolated coastline in Australia. How did I feel as it cruised past me? Veeeeeeeeeeeeeery fortunate.

I'm ...

Think about this!


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