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White Shark off the coast of South Africa

Sunday, October 7, 2012

CITES proposal to protect 3 species of hammerhead sharks, oceanic white tip, porbeagle sharks, three species of fresh water stingray , and both species of manta ray. This is a huge step forward in the protection and conservation efforts for these animals! I'm so happy to finally see a positive gesture by officials. More to come on this subject soon.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Extreme Measures

                In the wake of several shark "incident" fatalities, the government in Western Australia has issued an order that any White shark coming within 1 km of popular beaches is to be slaughtered.   Great Whites have been a protected species in Australian waters for the past decade, but the laws protecting them have been reversed in a very knee-jerk reaction by the state Premier Colin Barnett and Fisheries Minister Norman Moore.

                Barnett is quoted as saying, “We will always put the lives and safety of beach-goers ahead of the shark. This is, after all, a fish—let’s keep it in perspective.”*1 The fact that Barnett has changed his view on White sharks so suddenly and taken such extreme measures to eradicate them is nauseating. It’s understandable that citizens in the Australian state would be in quite the uproar after such tragedies have taken place, but there are plenty of other solutions that need to be tried before allowing fishermen to cull an endangered species. The government could have tried to set up a Shark Spotter program first. Take Cape Town, South Africa for example. There have been established Shark Spotters on beaches for years now and the danger to beach-goers has dropped dramatically. The use of colored flags gives adequate notice to whether or not the water is safe to enter. If a shark is spotted, the white flag goes up and the beach is closed*2. Barnett could learn a few things from South Africa.
Photo courtesy of Julie Andersen*3www.sharkangels.com
                 Barnett and Moore announced that they will be using $7.2 million dollars (American currency) to implement new shark mitigation strategies that are aimed at reducing the risk of incident to swimmers, surfers, etc. This funding will pay for the Fisheries department to track, catch and kill any shark that gets too close to swimmers, as well as allowing them to study the animals, buy more jet skis for lifeguards and use GPS tracking equipment. Moore stated that the new policy will allow Fisheries officials to kill any Great White that presents an “imminent threat to people."*4  Bravo on providing additional funds for research on the Great White, but do they honestly think that this will prevent danger to people in the water? If sharks are coming closer to shore, there has to be a reason behind it. They are not cold blooded monsters hunting humans, as has been stated before. One would think that the government would investigate the reasoning behind the migration and put in place some sort of protection for both animal and human. Let’s be real, people are an “imminent threat” to people. Someone is more likely to get killed sitting at a stop light than from a shark bite. All this policy is doing is allowing an already vulnerable creature to be sentenced to death without a fair trial. Fishermen will not use restraint and only hunt the sharks swimming close to beaches, they’re going to kill any shark they see and get away with it. Barnett and Moore should take a long look at the facts and use their brains before putting in place a policy as asinine as this one is. 

                  In closing, I'd like to leave you all with some tips from my fellow Shark Angels on how you can help fight to save sharks. For the full article, please visit www.sharkangels.com. Thanks, guys!

                 " 1. Become an Angel: Earn your wings and become a Shark Angel, serving as a spokesperson and local campaign activist.
                  2. Do not consume or purchase shark: It isn’t just the soup. Do not eat shark steaks or meat, do not eat imitation crab, lobster or shrimp (it often contains shark), and do not eat white fish, rock salmon or the other names for it.
                  3. Be aware, informed consumers: Know what you're buying. A lot of times shark is labeled as other types of fish, or even concealed in the products that you buy.
                  4. Take your business elsewhere: Do not support any merchant selling shark or ray products, including shark fin soup or shark steak. Tell them your concerns and why you're boycotting their business.
                  5. Speak out and defend sharks: Always report, to the proper authorities, anyone you witness mal-aligning or abusing this incredibly valuable animal..."