Shark culling is a practice in Western Australia where the government captures and kills large predatory sharks around populous beaches. Shark culls are designed to reduce the number of shark attacks against humans. However, this practice of massive murder has done nothing to protect people and in fact, is an inhumane practice that jeopardizes the ecology of the ocean.
What Are Shark Culls?
Shark culls are basically a coordinated mass killing of sharks. They are implemented by the government to deal with the threat of sharks along popular beaches. Fisherman hired by the government will line the perimeter of these beaches with drum lines that are designed to bait and hook sharks. Once the sharks are caught by the drum lines they are then killed by the fishermen. Sometimes there are stipulations on the kill such as size requirements or species type. However, even with restrictions, the practice of shark culling is incredibly brutal and very damaging to shark population.
2014 Shark Cull In Western Australia
Shark Culling was implemented in 2014 in Western Australia in response to a series of shark attacks. The government of Australia issued an edict to place the drum lines and any shark over 3 meters in length was to be immediately killed. On January 26, 2014 the first shark was killed. After that, the drum lines caught 66 sharks in total. Of those 17 were killed, and 49 were under the size limit. However, 9 of the 49 smaller sharks died on the hook, prompting many to wonder how effective is this brutal practice.
The Effectiveness of Shark Culls
Sharks culls are not effective. Between the 1960-70s, Hawaii implemented a shark culling practice that killed 4,668 sharks. Even with all these sharks killed, shark attacks did not decline in numbers. There is also the issue that exposure to sharks does not necessarily increase shark attacks. Sharks do not hunt land animals, so it is not natural for them to go after humans. Shark attacks are not the result of sharks being aggressive predators but are actually a myriad of factors from curiosity to seeing humans as potential competition in areas with strained resources to divers hand feeding sharks, training them to take interest in humans. So killing sharks is not the solution to ending shark attacks.
Most importantly shark culls are a huge overreaction. Shark attacks, especially fatal ones are so rare that it really is nothing to fear. Millions of people are in the ocean every day all over the planet and there are only an average of 4 shark related fatalities worldwide. So for the government of Australia to implement a program to kill all the sharks along the beaches is a severe overreaction to a nonexistent threat. So not only are shark culls ineffective at preventing shark attacks, but they are not necessary protection.
The Dangers Of Shark Culls
The biggest problem with shark culls is it threatens already endangered shark species. Sharks are being killed worldwide of a rate of 100 million a year. In Australia alone, 90% of all shark species have been destroyed. So adding to the death toll with shark culling only increases the likelihood that sharks could be driven to extinction. If sharks go extinct it will be a disaster for our planet. They are the apex predators of the ocean and are crucial for maintaining the delicate balance of the ecosystem intact. Also the death of sharks is contributing to global warming, which is putting everyone in danger. So not only is there no proof that shark culls work, but they are actually dangerous to the health of our oceans, our planet, and ourselves.
Activism Against Shark Culls
Many understood the dangers of Australia’s policy of shark culling. The news of the shark culls spread quickly on social media and lead to many people organizing campaigns to stop them. Everyone from direct action activists who would free trapped sharks and cut the drum lines to political parties taking a strong stand against the practice of shark culls worked together to end this practice. Finally, through the efforts of activists, the government decided to end the policy of shark culling but still reserved the right to kill sharks at will which remains a point of contention.
Alternatives To Shark Culls
Though shark culling has ended in Australia, it’s still an option other governments can consider. Plus with the demand to reduce shark attacks from both people who support shark culls and shark conservationists against them, has inspired people to start thinking of alternative ways that sharks and humans can share the ocean. So scientists and activists have been working for an alternative way to end the brutal, inhumane practice of shark culls for good. Some effective alternatives include:
- Magnets: Sharks navigate the world’s oceans using electroreception and have been observed avoiding places with strong magnetic fields. So scientists believe that using magnets could help create a deterrent barrier that would prevent sharks from entering popular areas.
- Electric Shock: Another option is to deter sharks by creating essentially an underwater electric fence. When sharks tried to cross the barrier it would administer annoying, but nonfatal shocks that could deter the sharks.
- Chemical Shark Deterrents: Scientists have also found that sharks are sensitive to certain eco-friendly chemicals. Placing these chemicals in the water would create a barrier that would deter sharks from entering.
These are just some of the alternatives that scientists are exploring to ensure that the practice of sharks culling is ended for good.
Sharks culls are a dangerous, ineffective, and inhumane practice. Shark populations are already facing rapid decline and implementing the systematic killing of sharks over a non-existent threat is a terrible policy. Luckily, activists have worked together to end this practice in Australia, but there are still concerns another shark cull could happen elsewhere. Luckily, scientists are working to find a great alternative to keep sharks and people away from each other, so all all shark species do not have to pay for a few random attacks on humans.