by Jeff Hansen, Managing Director, Sea Shepherd Australia
In the early hours of this morning the fisherman hired to perform Barnett's dirty work of killing protected species, went out to check Barnett's drum lines as part of the new shark cull program off the Western Australian Coast.
As each drum line was checked, it was found to be empty. However on the last drum line the fisherman found a beautiful 3 metre plus female tiger shark. It's difficult to tell how much pain she would have been in for up to 12 hours with Barnett's brutal hook through her mouth. She was then brought alongside the boat by the fisherman and shot four times in the head before she finally died. She was then gutted and then dragged out to sea and dumped as a means to hide Barnett's dirty work from the world. It was a cruel, painful and unnecessary death.
If this is the way that we treat our Australian battlers that work tirelessly to maintain the balance in our oceans, the health and integrity of humanities life support systems, then on this Australia day I am ashamed to be Australian.
How can we condemn Japan for the indiscriminate killing of whales and dolphins and do this to our precious protected marine life here in Australia? This method is utterly cruel and inhumane and these animals can take many hours to die.
The tiger shark is a solitary, mostly nocturnal hunter, with a diet ranging from crustaceans, fish, birds, seals, turtles, squid and sea snakes. Males reach sexual maturity at 2.3 metres to 2.9 metres and females at 2.5 to 3.5 metres. Females mate around once every 3 years with young developing inside the mothers body for up to 16 months, with litters ranging from 10 to 82 pups. Pups are around 50 cm at birth and are vulnerable to predation. Tiger sharks are on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, listed as Near Threatened and don't live that long (over 12 years). Given that they don't reproduce every year and have only a few pups that make it to maturity, and considering that they are listed as near threatened due to finning, the targeting of large breeding sized Tiger sharks by the Barnett Government is without a doubt a cull. There is no other way to look at this.
Sea Shepherd Australia is also questioning the competency of the fisherman as he has been adamant that the shark he caught was in fact a Bull shark, however a number of shark experts and researchers, including Blair Ranford has confirmed the species as a Tiger shark.
Link to the video: http://tenplay.com.au/news/perth/2014/1/26/sadness-at-sea
It's day one of Barnett's shark cull program that was given the green light with an exemption from the Federal Environment Minister and the toll is set as one magnificent female Tiger shark. Barnett's controversial program went ahead after Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt granted WA an exemption under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, allowing the protected Great White shark to be killed.
The WA Government has been forced to rope in its own Department of Fisheries officers to do the work after commercial operators pulled out following threats from activists.
Basically, the Australian Government has exempted itself from its own laws to kill Australian iconic protected species, the full details can be found here: http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/notices/pubs/158-statement-shark-drum-line-deployment.pdf
Sea Shepherd Australia has been working with the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) at legal action against the State Government, however due to the exemption from the Federal Environment Minister, the goal posts have been moved so we are seeking further advice.
We are now asking all of our supporters to come out again this Saturday, the 1st of February to be a massive voice for the sharks and attend one of the nationwide rallies below.
We need you to come out in force and send a clear message to Barnett and the coalition government that we vote and do not want this assault on our precious marine life to continue.
We will not rest until our precious marine life and our sharks that maintain our marine ecosystems and life supporting oceans, are given the respect and protection they deserve for the sake of future generations.
For an ocean without sharks, is a planet without people. Please come and show your support at one of the rallies below.