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Greens warn on knee-jerk to reaction to sharks

Media Release
Peter Whish-Wilson 29 Sep 2016

Greens Senator Surfer, Peter Whish-Wilson, is disappointed the federal environment minister is politicking with the serious and sensitive issue of shark attacks, inviting applications for culls of Great White Sharks in his comments to The Australian this morning.

"Raising education and awareness on the risks and realities of shark encounters is crucial in this debate, and the federal environment minister's comments this morning are most unhelpful.

"As a surfer and ocean lover I totally understand the fear and anxiety around shark encounters, but I also understand the ocean is not a risk-free environment, and I enter at my own risk.

"There are over 10,000 beaches in Australia. There is no possible way to totally reduce the risk of shark attack, and to offer a false sense of security for a headline is a dangerous thing for a politician to do.

"Knee-jerk reactions from politicians, like Josh Frydenberg calling for culls, don't do anything to help swimmers and surfers understand how to reduce the risk of entering the ocean, in fact they are counterproductive.

"I will be urgently seeking a briefing with Minister Frydenberg's office next week to better understand the framework of any decision, and what evidence is required for the minister to give permission to cull protected and endangered species like the Great White Shark.

"For example, how many sharks does the minister believe should be culled in the Ballina region before it is safe to enter the water and what science is this based on?

"There is scant evidence that shark nets and drum-lines reduce shark attacks, no matter how many sharks they kill. But there is ample evidence that nets and drum-lines impact on endangered marine life including whales, dolphins and turtles.

"Josh Frydenberg has offered a blank cheque to NSW that he doesn't have the power to cash. He is obliged to look at every proposal that involves harming threatened and endangered species that comes across his desk, and he is politicking to say otherwise," he concluded.

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