Seashepherd Warns Against Vigilante Action

Seashepherd Australia is urging frustrated water-goers not to take matters into their own hands and hunt great white sharks.

There have been reports of vigilante action against the sharks by Esperance locals, after a number of sightings have been recorded nearby in recent weeks.

Seashepherd Australia volunteer Mike Dicks said this practice is highly illegal.

“There is absolutely no scientific proof whatsoever that the numbers of great whites have escalated,” he said.

“They are breaking the law.

“Really it’s up to everyone to become better educated and take their own personal responsibility as to how they use the ocean.”

The State Government implemented three new initiatives to mitigate shark attacks earlier this year.

They included a government-subsidised shark shield, a beach emergency numbering system and beach enclosures.

Mr Dicks said it’s up to individuals to consider the risks and use these systems to keep themselves safe.

“That means using tools that are already available, like shark shield or putting a shark shield in their surfboard.

“We don’t have people climbing Everest in the middle of winter.

“We don’t have kite surfers out when there’s a cyclone around.

“Likewise, surfers should think responsibly: ‘Is this a good time to go surfing?’ when maybe salmon are running or there are a lot of whales are going by the coastline.”

Since 2000, 15 people have been killed by sharks of the WA coast compared with over 3,000 fatalities on WA roads.

“The risk of a shark attack for ocean users is extremely low and extremely remote,” said Mr Dicks.

“People are unfortunately killed in many different ways every day of the year and it doesn’t quite receive the same exposure it gets when there’s a shark attack.”

According to Seashepherd Australia, sharks are imperative for our survival, as they keep other marine life in healthy balance and regulate the oceans.

Studies have shown the elimination of sharks can have disastrous effects on the marine ecosystem, such as the collapse of fisheries and death of coral reefs.

Given this ecosystem provides us with one third of our food source, more oxygen than all the rainforests combined, removes half the atmosphere’s greenhouse gas and controls the planet’s temperature and weather, it’s crucial that sharks remain at the top of the food chain.

A joint operation between Seashepherd Global and East Timor National police saw 18 Chinese boats detained for illegal fish netting and shark fishing.

Seashepherd’s patrol boat Ocean Warrior was used to ferry officials to the illegal vessels, where they catalogued evidence of illegal activity.

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