It makes me happy to see that there are many people in Australia and NZ against the WA government’s shark culling policy, which was introduced in an effort to
increase tourism decrease the number of fatal shark attacks in WA beaches. When this policy was first introduced, my heart sank. Apparently killing things seems to be the answer for a situation that could be handled with just a little more thought and a lot less moronic brutality. Yes, shark attacks are devastating and tragic for the victims and their families, and our hearts go out to them, but when it comes to finding an effective solution, shark culling is probably not one of them.
While we’re at it, let’s drain the ocean too, since more people die from drowning in it each year. Shark culling applies that same logic; rather than accept that the ocean is not the realm of human life, but a place we enter for recreational purposes, with certain risks and danger involved (as with any activity) and learning precautions that ensure our own safety without causing undue harm to others, we believe that undiscerning creatures should be held responsible for a situation they do not understand and cannot control.
We’re all pretty aware of the dent the human population has made on mother nature. We know now better than ever how we have negatively impacted our environment, leading many parts of the world to make conscious efforts to be more green and awesome. So despite all this awareness, why do we continue making decisions that suggest otherwise?
We seem to fear what we don’t know, and as is most often the case, maybe education can take us from being raging scared lunatics to discerning human beings who are capable of solving problems without first destroying everything in our path. Maybe educating beach goers on personal safety and the level of risk attached to swimming or surfing in an ocean that, believe it or not, is inhabited by marine animals will help. Or, education to change public perception of the shark-folk from the bad rap they’ve had thanks to media hype and movies like JAWS (chill out, they don’t have a personal vendetta against you); education to understand that we are part of a delicate and complex ecosystem that can be very easily and irrevocably destroyed if we continue on such a misguided and ill-thought out path.
Despite the overwhelming ethical and environmental reasons to abort the shark culling policy, it is also worth questioning whether this idea will even help to reduce the number of deaths caused by shark attacks. If you haven’t already begun asking these questions, this might be a good place to start.