Sharks: are they the danger, or are we?
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A photo shared online by local fisherman Jason Moyce, also known as Trapman Bermagui, claimed on social media that the shark tail was “over two metres tall and the shark’s weight was over a ton". According to the Sea Life Trust in Australia, the NSW Shark Meshing programme is estimated to cost $1.4 million per year for an eight-month contract that operates on 14 days of the month, only on beaches between Wollongong and Newcastle. I spoke to Madi Stewart, Australian Geographic’s Young Conservationist of the Year 2017, who is also known as 'shark girl'. An environmental activist and filmmaker, she has dedicated her life to helping others understand and respect these amazing creatures. I asked Madi why shark nets are a danger to shark populations. She says: "Shark nets have been successful in catching and killing many species of sharks since their instalment in Australia over 30 years ago. "Their impact on the population of not only sharks, but lots of other marine life, can be seen by the decrease in catch numbers since their placement, suggesting they have successfully culled a local population of wildlife." Madi goes on to discuss the 'effectiveness' of shark nets: "A lot of people think we oppose shark nets because they kill animals... but it's more than that," she says. "I personally oppose shark nets because they are ineffective in protecting people. Not only has there been a fatal attack at a beach with drum lines in the past, but the notion that a small stretch of beach that has a tiny net that doesn't even touch the ocean floor is going to save anyone is flawed. "The reality of the environment (that) we live in here in Australia, and anywhere around the world, is a reality we have forgotten. It's not ours, and it's dangerous, and it means we may have to abandon a perfect break every now and then to avoid becoming a victim to a shark attack... the very real threat of sharks needs to be taken into our own hands sometimes, and not just that of the government's. "Sharks are not a mystery; they are not an enigma - there are many things you can and should learn about the dangerous predator you enter the water with, as hikers do with bears, and many other examples. "So my advice to you is this; know your place in the ocean, and accept that risk and make your own personal attempts to make it safer for yourself, but never forget that it is not our ocean."View this post on Instagram
Maroubra Beach Sydney, a 4.6m Great White Shark, caught in a protective beach net. Tail was over 2m tall and the sharks weight was over a ton. This is one of Sydney's most popular surf beaches.. #shark #fishing #fish #sharknets #maroubra #beach #braboys #maroubrabeach #maroubracommunity #Sydney #Australia #surf #ocean #scary #awesome #epic #monster #greatwhiteshark #protected
I asked Madi what we can do to raise awareness of endangered species, in particular how to work against shark finning processes. She said to "be careful not to buy shark products" and to "raise local awareness, and lobby governments". It is estimated that 11,000 sharks are killed per hour (100 million every year) as a result of shark finning practices, and even more endangered species are at risk with the implementation of shark nets and drum lines.
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SHARK NETS FOR HUNGER STRIKE // Credit: Madison StewartTo find out more about staying safe in the ocean, and the huge effect sharks have on our environment, visit Madison’s website: https://www.madistewart.com/ To read more on the decline of sharks, click here. Lead Image by Fiona Ayerst, From Marine Photo Bank