35 YEAR OLD CHRIS BOYD, W.A SURFER DIES IN SHARK INCIDENT.
INEFFECTIVE “KILL ORDER” ISSUED UNDER NEANDERTHAL BARNETT POLICY
There has been a Shark attack this morning (23/11/13) near Gracetown in Western Australia’s South West, an area known to be frequented by Great White Sharks and in particular at this time of year. The fatal incident occurred after a shark nudged a nearby surfer off of his board and then investigated and next struck Chris Boyd and his board near a surf break known as Umbilicals or “Umbies”. It is located just a stones throw from “Lefthanders” Break. Mr Boyd was killed instantly and announced deceased at 0905hrs.
Western Australians for Shark Conservation would like to express our sincere condolences and reiterate that Shark attacks are very rare events despite the unusually high number of incidents which occurred during the 2011/2012 season.
There are a number of potential factors which are thought to have influenced this rise in activity which I will list at the bottom of this article.
The beaches in the surrounding area have been closed and ocean users have been encouraged to avoid the area. Despite media and fisheries speculation, the species of shark has in actual fact not been identified. There have been multiple sightings of differing species and size sharks and it is highly unlikely that this Shark can be caught and identified as the animal responsible for Mr Boyd’s death.
Given that the beaches are now under surveillance, closed and vacated to the public there now can be no “Imminent Threat” to ocean users.
Fisheries vessels and the SW Shark patrol helicopter continue to monitor the area and surrounding coastline.
Despite this the Director General of the Western Australian Fisheries Department (Stuart Smith) has issued a “catch and Kill order” under the “Imminent Threat Policy”.
ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION AND BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION ACT 1999 – SECT 212
Certain actions are not offences
(f) an action that is reasonably necessary to prevent a risk to human health; or
(g) an action by a Commonwealth agency, or an agency of a State or of a self-governing Territory, that is reasonably necessary for the purposes of law enforcement; or
(h) an action that is reasonably necessary to deal with an emergency involving a serious threat to human life or property;
This policy was passed through parliament by Premier Colin Barnett and now retired Fisheries Minister Norman Moore. This was achieved by further opening an already existing loophole in the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
This policy in actual fact violates many United Nations and Australian, laws, conventions and treaties and should be repealed immediately.
As we have seen, each time this policy is implemented it is completely useless as a method of Shark Incident mitigation.
These Sharks are worth more alive and tagged than dead. There is a requirement to preserve life on both sides here and tagging and tracking sharks is an effective method of obtaining more information and research which could be used to the benefit and safety of both ocean users and this Protected and Endangered species.
The S.W area and this area in particular is known to be prime White Shark habitat and Great White Sharks do reach a stage in their lives where they begin to develop more advanced hunting skills such as breaching and hitting seals. Moving from a diet of large fish to that of pinnipeds and larger prey as they mature.
This is thought to happen as they begin to mature or come within near of their reproductive ages. Male Great White Sharks are thought to reach maturity at around 4-4.5m or 10-12 years of age.Whilst females mature much slower at about 4.5-5m or between 12-17 years of age. Females also only reproduce every 2 years and have a gestation period of 18months.It is thought that between 1-8 pups can be born depending on Oophagy inside the womb. Oophagy is where young sharks devour each other in the womb. Only the toughest survive in the Shark world from the very beginning!
The Great White Shark was given Protected status in Australia in 1999 and is classified as Vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and is red listed. The problem with this being that studies to determine approximate, accurate numbers are not carried out frequently enough and often species are in actual fact more endangered than their status indicates.
For example a study was recently carried out in South Africa by the Dyer Island Conservation Trust where analysing and studying of over 20,000 dorsal fin photographs of Great White Sharks revealed a population of around 808 to 1008.
Approximately half of the population thought to inhabit the waters surrounding the area.
This can be read here:
So I ask the question how many are really out there?
The fact is we simply do not know and this has been confirmed in a recent study by CSIRO Shark Biologist and expert Barry Bruce recently.
Barry has been using genetic testing to study White Sharks on the Eastern and Western sea board of Tasmania, determining that there are two different genetic populations but it is very difficult to accurately gauge numbers. Numbers are thought to be lower than expected. I seems to have lost the entire study in my massive archive of research documents but will post the link to entire study here when I find it.
The Great White Shark is in actual fact more endangered than the Tiger with as few as 3000 individuals thought to be left globally.
As mentioned it is likely that this number is actually lower than that today.
Though a minor increase in population is likely many marine and Shark biologists have stated that given what is known in regard to White Shark reproduction (which is very little) and the time in which they have been protected, it is physically and genetically impossible that their numbers have significantly increased.
Though under significant threat globally we may have seen a small rise in numbers, here in Western Australia our state government is now looking to reduce Great White Shark numbers. What is the point in protecting an endangered species if when a slight recovery may be taking place a reduction of numbers is pursued in the interest of appeasing local businesses, tourism and pure and simple vote hunting?
We granted these Sharks protection 14 years ago after they where brought to the brink of extinction due to Jaws fueled paranoia and over exploitation by game fishermen and illegal fishing. Shark netting programs to protect beaches also kill large numbers of these sharks the world over and continue to do so where they are installed.
You can read more in regard to these destructive and bycatch intensive nets below.
Shark Angels are a brilliant group doing some great work in regard to this issue.
The single most significant threat facing Great White Sharks and Sharks in general the world over is the black market illegal trade in Sharks fins to feed demand for Shark Fin Soup. This illegal industry is rivaled in profit only by the global drug and arms trade and is responsible for the decimation of Shark populations worldwide.
An average of 73 million Sharks are killed per year and this figure has been estimated to possibly be as high as 104 million per year taking into account other factors such as commercial fishing bycatch Etc.
Many people often throw the “Shark fining doesn’t happen in Australia” line at me and I am here to tell you that it certainly does. As these illegal thugs empty the oceans of sharks they move into new, shark rich areas and marine sanctuaries such as the Galapagos Marine reserve in search of their illegal and highly valuable catch.
Our Western Australian Fisheries department have been monitoring Shark finners in our states North west.
At the current rate Sharks will be wiped from the oceans in only a few decades.
These predators play an absolutely vital role in our oceans as “Keystone species”.
This means they are a crucial link in the oceanic food chain and their removal would bring about the death of our oceans and consequential the death of our planets biosphere and our own race. Many people are unaware of the sharks role in regulating species which influence Phyto and zooplankton blooms,which in turn provide our Earth with 70% of our oxygen and control over 80% of carbon dioxide.
WASC Adviser and Shark Biologist, Author and Sharks for Life Founder Erik Brush published a book titled “The Sixth Extinction” which tells the non-fictional story of a dying planet earth due to the extinction of sharks and the chain reaction this would kick off.
I highly recommend purchasing and reading this book!
Below is a brief explanation from some of Erik’s brilliant work and a link to his site where you can order his books:
The Great Australian Bight is a feeding and probable breeding ground for these Sharks and as they mature they make their way up the coast in search of prey, honing and practicing the hunting skills these sharks are going to need to survive in maturity.
It is also thought that these Shark follow Live export vessels due to the smell of urine,blood and faeces trailing the ships as they traverse the Great Australian Bight on the way to Fremantle to finish loading before heading across Indian Ocean to their destination.
These ships do dump deceased animals ( after being ground up and jettisoned) and Sharks are known to be able to identify ships and vessels by noises and smells.
Great White Sharks would regularly trail Western Australia’s SW whaling vessels and you can read more of this here: http://www.wascgroup.com/?page_id=63
As i write this news has come to light that drumlines have been redeployed this morning and the hunt for this Shark continues. This is despite the fact that these Sharks are known to travel vast distances in a matter of hours and though some Great White Sharks do show some site fidelity in certain locations, this shark is quite likely over 120km’s away.
Lisa Clack Shark Response unit spokeswomen herself stated at the last press release I attended that these Sharks can cruise at an average speed of around 4km’s per hour, though stats on this vary.
WASC would like to acknowledge the approach taken by the Western Australian Fisheries department in regard to the proposed killing of this Shark. For the first time we are seeing and hearing both Spokesman Tony Cappelutti and Lisa Clack state that the Shark may not even be found let alone killed if caught.
Should a Great White Shark be caught WASC and other conservation groups both nationally and internationally will rally in opposition and shine an international spotlight on this disgraceful policy.
However should the State Fisheries Department change their focus and operations from a “Catch and kill order” perspective to a “Catch and Tag order” operation we would be fully supportive and commend the change as a step in the right direction.
Western Australians for Shark Conservation are not opposed or against W.A Fisheries but opposed to the slaughter of endangered Sharks.
At the end of the day the problem here in Western Australia boils down to the decision makers in power, Premier Colin Barnett, Fisheries Minister Troy Buswell and Director General Stuart Smith.
Our State Fisheries Department exists to ensure the continued survival and biodiversity in our states waters and their motto is “Fish for the future”. Sadly that motto has become somewhat of a joke since the introduction of this policy.
Fisheries have previously sought to euthanize the Shark using what is called a smokie, which is essentially a tube which discharges a shotgun round when pushed against a Sharks head. For the first time we have today heard their spokesman state that though a catch and kill order has been enacted, the decision of whether or not to kill the shark will be due to consideration and yet to be decided. These hunts issued under the “imminent Threat Policy” have been shown to be a fruitless waste of funding and taxpayers dollars yielding no results and catching undesired/bycatch species.
They are completely ineffective as a method of shark attack mitigation. These sharks are worth far more alive than dead and tagging is preferable to killing an IUCN red listed species. It is also more effective. So fisheries may tag the Shark, or possibly other sharks which may be caught.One can only hope, because killing the, or a Shark is not going to achieve any thing apart from further hinder the recovery of Great White Sharks.
It goes without saying dead sharks don’t yield tracking data.
Sharks are in massive trouble globally with 90% of the Sharks present in our oceans 3-4 decades ago now gone.
We need to protect life on both sides here and education alone has been shown to be the best shark mitigation method available. At the end of the day it is their kingdom and we must accept the risks we take when entering the water.
Please Support us and contact the relevant Ministers using the details listed below. Request the Kill Order be rescinded and the “Imminent Threat Policy” repealed.
Efforts to tag and expand the Shark Monitoring Network be escalated.
Request that funding be used for research and not the killing of this Protected and Endangered species.
Influential factors in regard to White Shark presence:
Recovering whale population and migration
Seasonal Fish spawning and congregations
Passing Orcas force Great White Sharks to take refuge in coastal waters.
River mouths ( particularly during incoming or outgoing tidal activity)
Oceanic currents/ La Nina and El Nino weather cycle/ global warming
There are many potential factors which could be influencing Great White Shark and shark activity off of our coast but at the end of the day…Sharks live in the ocean! It’s their home not ours.
Contact details for relevant officials:
Mail: Department of the Premier and Cabinet, 2 Havelock Street, WEST PERTH WA 6005
Phone number: 6552 5000
Honorable Colin Barnett MEc MLA
Premier; Minister for State Development; Science
Address: 1 Parliament Place, WEST PERTH WA 6005
Telephone: (08) 6552-5000
Honorable Troy Buswell BEc MLA
Treasurer; Minister for Transport; Fisheries
Address: 13th Floor, Dumas House, 2 Havelock Street, WEST PERTH WA 6005
Telephone: (08) 6552-6400
Thank you for your time and support.
WASC Founder and Spokesperson