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Western Australia Shark Cull is a Greed-Driven, Savage Solution to a Nonproblem

Photo by Albert Kok

Photo by Albert Kok

A state-sponsored shark cull in Western Australia claimed its first victim on Sunday.

According to a report in The Australian, “a commercial fisherman hired by the Barnett government pulled a 3m female tiger shark from the waters off Meelup Beach. As the animal thrashed about in the water in apparent agony, it was shot four times in the head at close range with a .22 calibre rifle. The shark, a threatened species, was then towed about 5km out to sea and dumped.”

Led by Premier Colin Barnett, officials in Western Australian — who are enthusiastically bending over for tourism-industry greed-heads — have launched a War on Sharks that will continue through April. The killing is being carried out, its proponents would have us believe, in the interest of “public safety.”

As I wrote earlier this month, “the notion that sharks pose a significant risk to humans is utter nonsense. Two people died in 2013 as a result of encounters with sharks in waters off Australia. Likewise, two humans were killed by sharks in waters off Australia in 2012. According to the International Shark Attack File, sharks killed 16 people in waters off Australia between 2001 and 2012.”

Government-contracted death squads in Western Australia have been tasked with slaughtering any and all bull, tiger, and great white sharks who measure more than three meters in length — an arbitrary criterion that (conveniently, for the death squads) can only be assessed after a shark has been dragged from the ocean.

Barnett was quoted in the above-mentioned Australian report as saying, with regard to the public’s safety, “Someone has to bear the responsibility and I think that that falls to me.”

What Barnett is saying, essentially, is that he believes it’s his job to control what some people want controlled — no matter that a policy designed to control nature could only be implemented by a fucking madman and his thuggish henchmen.

The fact of the matter is, Barnett has declared a War on Sharks because a statistically infinitesimal number of people have died over the years as a result of encounters with sharks. And that’s not good for the tourism industry’s bottom line.

Earlier this month, I wrote: “Surf Life Saving Australia’s National Coastal Safety Report 2011 indicates that there were ‘61 coastal drowning deaths’ in Australian waters between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011, and ‘nine coastal drowning deaths, four coastal deaths, and two ocean drowning deaths in Western Australia in 2010-11.’ And yet, to my knowledge, no self-righteous policymaker has suggested banning ocean recreation to protect people from themselves.”

The problem, as I see it, is the very notion that there’s a problem. Unfortunately, even those who oppose Barnett’s War on Sharks have fed that notion.

From The Australian: “Ryan Kempster, a shark biologist at the University of WA, disputes Barnett’s assertion that the government had no choice but to kill sharks. He says Barnett has so far ignored a letter he and more than 100 other shark experts from across the world wrote to him late last year calling for a non-lethal solution to the problem.”

For fuck’s sake, people, what problem?

We could talk ad infinitum about how unlikely it is that someone in waters off Western Australia, or anywhere else for that matter, will die as a result of an encounter with a shark. And yet still, there will be knuckle-draggers like Mr. Barnett who’ll listen, with malice aforethought, to self-serving dirtbags who want to be able to promise the rabble absolutely threat-free ocean recreation.

The irony here is that Barnett’s critics could throw the bastard into the ocean on each of his remaining days in office and he most likely wouldn’t die in a shark attack — even with all that figurative blood on his hands.

I certainly hope that voters in Western Australia throw the scumbag out of office. And I hope his successor will begin each of his days in office with a swim, to remind constituents what a callous asshole his predecessor was.

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