Put the Bite on Illogical Thinking, Not Sharks

This opinion piece was published in The West Australian with their minor alterations today on behalf of PADI and Project AWARE, as part of ongoing efforts to stop the culling of sharks and other marine life using baited drumlines off Western Australia’s beaches.

Put the Bite on Illogical Thinking, Not Sharks

The dive industry knows as well as anyone what it means to become best friends with a former nemesis, and that is what we are calling on WA’s Premier and politicians to do too.

 As much as any group who uses the ocean, divers face the potential fear of sharks, and sometimes a real threat.  But as an industry we have also recognised that facts need to come before fear, and benefitted in many ways from that.

 Whilst shark attacks do happen, the risk is so incredibly low
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Truth First Casualty of Great White Shark Feeding Frenzy

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Diver and shark by Marco Fraschetti (Oceans Downunder)

A great Opinion Piece very pertinent in the lead up to WA’s shark season this year, printed in The West Australian, Thursday March 18th. Written by Marco Fraschetti,  a shark diver and photographer, spear fisherman and owner of underwater photography and shark diving company Oceans Downunder….

I grew up in Fremantle. The waters from Cockburn Sound right out to the FADs off Rottnest is my backyard. I’ve dived WA’s waters all my life as a spear fisherman and photographer, from Perth all the way to the Northern territory border.  I’ve seen my share of sharks. And I can tell you the sharks have always been out there.

For me it was an encounter with a shark off Perth that changed me forever.

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Australian Science Supports a National Marine Reserve Network

Anyone wondering about all the dodgy claims made recently by fishing groups and some opposition MP’s about there being no science behind marine parks, please read this blog post and then decide who is most credible on science – all these scientists or the fishing industry lobby groups…

The establishment of the National Marine Reserve Network, and in particular the Marine National Park zones, is firmly embedded in decades of cutting edge Australian marine science research. For this reason, leading scientific organizations have been strongly supportive of the network.

In fact, levels of protection recommended by these scientific organizations were higher than those delivered in the final marine reserve network.

The CSIRO provided extensive submission supportive of the establishment of a national marine reserve network.   In their submission to the South West marine region, CSIRO stated

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Tourism and Marine Sanctuaries for South West WA

Some stats and facts on tourism and marine sanctuaries…

Tourism is an important industry for the South West region of Western Australia.  Marine ecotourism is a growth sector in the region, and the regions natural beauty, snorkeling, diving, fishing and clean beaches are a major attraction for both domestic and international tourists.

A Tourism Dependent Region

A recent report by the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism found that the South West is one of seven tourism dependent regions in Australia.  The tourism industry contributes $881m and attracts 1.6 million visitors Continue reading

National Marine Reserve Network Through Lower House of Parliament

The National Marine Reserve Network that was declared by Government last year has passed its first and most nail biting legislative hurdle, getting through the lower house of Federal Parliament 71 votes to 70 last night despite opposition from the Liberal and National parties. Support from rural independents Rob Oakshott and Tony Windsor ensured the successful passage of this legislation.

Now it needs to move on to the senate where the passage should be easier with more votes to spare.

The opposition from the Liberal party was disappointing given their past strong record on marine conservation.  It extended to voting against the management plans for the South East region that was completed by the former Howard Government.  

It was particularly disappointing to hear the terrible run of misinformation on the floor of Parliament from the anti-conservation extremists in the Coalition.  

Coverage in The Australian here http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/breaking-news/oppn-could-unwind-marine-protection-burke/story-fn3dxiwe-1226657198822

Keep Australia Fishing Campaign: When the Truth Stops Mattering

This week the Keep Australia Fishing anti-marine parks misinformation campaign run by some of Australia’s previously considered respectable recreational fishing lobby leaders and commentators hit new lows.

In a puff piece published in The Australian Newspaper last week the gap between reality and rhetoric was starkly on display.  The article was published in the lead up to a rally in Victoria, and claimed a thousand fishers would attend as ‘a growing number of the nation’s estimated five million anglers are furious…’.  In reality the Squid can report that about 80 people attended.  And that was at a fishing club with a membership of over 1000,

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Why WA needs a 10c Recycle Refund (For People and Marine Life)

Western Australia is on the brink of introducing a ten cent recycle refund (Container Deposit Scheme) for bottles and cans, a system that could increase recycling fourfold.

Whilst the State Government is still officially holding out faith in a five year negotiation with the Federal Government, increasing community pressure is now calling on them to commit to going it alone if the Federal process fails to deliver a result again this April.

WA has the worst overall recycling rate, and worst litter per capita, in mainland Australia, so we need to act.  For people, and to ensure WA’s contribution to marine plastic pollution – a problem that threatens to choke our oceans – is minimised.

Here is five very good reasons why all political parties should commit Continue reading