Australia - Don't Remove Protection for Great White Sharks

  • by: Judith B.
  • target: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Australian Government

Last year 5 people in Australia were killed by sharks, a record high. In reaction, the Western Australian state government says it will remove great white sharks from the protected species list if the federal government does the same.

Shark maulings are horrific. However, to put these figures into context, in Australia last year, 315 died from drowning - that is 63 times the number killed by sharks. The greatest danger of water sports is the water itself. Even honey bees kill more people on average than sharks every year in Australia.

A more rational response would be to run a water safety information campaign, which could also address the much greater danger of drowning.  Of course sharks are potentially dangerous, but persecuting them is a kneejerk and outdated reaction.

The great white shark is an essential part of the ocean ecosystem and already struggling to survive. Ask the Australian government to not remove protection for one of the country’s endangered marine animals.

We the undersigned ask that you not allow the removal of great white sharks from the protected species list because of the five fatal attacks last year. We understand that they were shocking and are not trying to diminish that. However, during much the same period more than 60 times the number of people died in Australia from drowning.  On average, more people die from honey bee stings than shark encounters each year in this country.

There is no real evidence that shark numbers are increasing or that the great white is no longer endangered. The answer is not to allow the killing of a top predator that forms an essential part of ocean ecosystems.

We ask that you instead consider ensuring that all people who participate in waters that are either hazardous in their own right or might contain dangerous wild animals are fully aware of both the risks and safety precautions.

In certain places, water sports are extremely dangerous. As their popularity increases, so does the number of people possibly putting themselves in danger. A comprehensive public information campaign should ensure that people know what they are doing and is a more rational response than immediately legalising yet more killing of Australia’s struggling marine wildlife.

Thank you for your attention.

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