Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Western Australia!

There has been some progress in WA.

This is good stuff.
It's the report commissioned by the WA government and written by Bond University associate professor Daryl McPhee. After having analyzed the various Shark control measure, it comes to the correct conclusions, ie that
  • Shark Control Programs result in the capture of a wide range of by-catch species including marine mammals, marine turtles, and sharks and rays not implicated in unprovoked attacks on humans. 
  • Information obtained from other shark control programs has documented that by-catch rates are often very high in the early years of a program. These rates subsequently decline which is likely due in part to the effect of shark control programs “fishing down” local populations of animals vulnerable to the gear. 
  • There is a high likelihood that the additional anthropogenic source of mortality that a shark control program in WA would generate has potential implications for the populations of any currently threatened marine species or where conservation concerns are emerging that would be vulnerable to this gear. 
  • Due to the environmental impacts of shark control activities, it is not recommended that either shark nets of drum-lines be introduced into Western Australia. 
  • Further consideration could be given to the feasibility of using shark enclosures for bather protection.
  • Shark enclosures have the advantage of providing a complete physical barrier that prevents sharks from accessing an area and do not target the reduction in shark numbers or result in any bycatch of other large species like shark nets do. Such enclosures are better suited to calmer areas although new materials that are available potentially increase their scope of use. 
  • Shark enclosures are suitable for bathers only. They are unlikely to be desirable at locations for other watersport activities such as surfing or diving.

Remains the issue of the culling.

Well, gee, bravo Mr. Moore - again!
This is of course utter humbug and one can only hope that with time, the political grandstanding will subside in favor a more rational assessment of the situation.

There is indeed no silver bullet solution here.
Those Shark strikes will continue to happen whatever anybody does - and it certainly behooves the aquatic recreationists to take all possible precautions and to accept the fact that they are entering a dangerous place like Neff suggests.
But whereas it is plausible that the incidence of those strikes is linked to the increased number of people entering the water, and this during a longer season, there remains a further equally plausible cause, the topic nobody wants to talk about: that we may be witnessing the result of decades of successful protection of Australia's Great White populations, and of the Pinnipeds they prey upon.

Yes so far this is speculative - but it needs to be investigated.
And if the result is that there are now many more GWs, then there will be many more such strikes in the future. And if so, much like in the case of the protected Salties in Darwin, the situation will eventually reach a breaking point where public opinion will demand drastic measures like recently in Réunion - and trust me, no politician will forever withstand the pressure of a strident mob.

Certainly not the usual ethical preaching that is ultimately unrealistic, nor kicking the can down the road by pretending that there is no problem - but instead, exploring strategies for mitigation now, before the situation becomes fatally compromised by emotions.
With GWs being highly migratory, a Risk Management Plan like what is being proposed for the Salties in the Northern Territory is obviously not a viable strategy - but may there be another, totally different RMP that is? And what about the revision of the GWs protected status, that would re-establish a (likely limited) targeted fishery? Will that reduce the likelihood of those strikes? Or will removing the Pinnipeds from populated areas help? Yes it is repugnant - but are there better alternatives, practically?
I got no idea - but again, somebody needs to look into it!

Or how about this - mutatis mutandis!

Click for detail!

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