25 Abril 2017 11:33
The Great White Death took another victim this month. 17-year-old Laeticia Brouwer was fatally attacked by a great white shark while surfing in Western Australia, making her the country's third shark attack victim this year. For the Australian government her death has been the straw that broke the camel's back. In response to the national outcry (and in an attempt not to lose any more votes), authorities have declared war on the sharks.
Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said he would consider new proposals including culling, but any action would rely upon the state government. 'In light of the recent shark attack the Commonwealth would welcome any proposal to put human life first,' said Frydenberg. 'This could include the newest drum line technology, shark exclusion nets, culling or other measures which WA sees fit.'
These are the four possible measures for preventing shark attacks:
-Culling: the capture and killing of sharks using drum lines.
-Drum line: a trap consisting of a large baited hook attached to a floating object which is anchored to the sea floor.
-Shark shield: a personal device, attached to a person's ankle or surfboard, which repels sharks by emitting an electrical field.
-Exclusion nets: these serve to protect certain areas, such as public beaches.
Allison Perry, Habitats Director of Oceana in Europe, told PlayGround that 'although the loss of human life is obviously a major concern for the Australian government... it does not change the fact that the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) is an endangered species whose population has declined drastically and requires protection. The species is classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is legally protected both in Australia and internationally.'
She added that the measures proposed for preventing attacks would threaten the existence of sharks, which are already endangered due to commercial and sports fishing, the safety nets that sharks get caught in, population control programmes, direct persecution, and the degradation of the near-shore habitats that are essential for the development of their offspring.
Perry also points out that culling is not an affective solution. In 2014, attempts to reduce attacks by great whites using drum lines were unsuccessful. More than 170 sharks were caught but none of them was a great white. The tactic was also used off the coast of Reunion Island, again with little success.
If Australia does decide to pursue the aforementioned measures, it doesn't look like it will succeed in reducing the number of attacks. It will also further jeopardise the survival of the species and risk destabilising the ecosystem of the area.