Bridget chose to write her Grade 12 essay on Shark Nets and Drum lines. She asked to share it on our website so others could find out some important facts about how sharks and other marine life are affected by these processes.
Shark Netting and Drum Lines
By Bridget Moloney
Shark Netting and Drum Lines
By Bridget Moloney
Sharks, a feared and violent marine species by the human race. The media around the world enjoy emphasizing the danger of sharks on beaches for swimmers. Yet forget to mention the insignificant amount of deaths sharks create over the years compared to other species such as snakes, tigers, elephant and humans (Australian Government, 2005). Governments around the world are trying to discover ways to eliminate the threat of sharks on beaches for swimmers, this saw the introduction of shark nets and drum lines to the oceans to help prevent future shark attacks. What we as the human species forget, is that these animals play a vital role in the marine world and without them; this could have a great impact on the oceans.
It is now very difficult to find any good news regarding sharks on the web, which is filled with dramatized shark stories created by journalists to create a greater fear amongst people. The ocean has always scared humans, the unknown of the deep leaves swimmers fearful of what may be beneath them. For over 70 years shark nets have been a part of the Australian coast line, helping to prevent the fear of sharks. Shark nets are nets that are a mesh of approximately 50cm.
The nets are 200m long and 6m high, they are usually anchored at a depth of 10-14m (Shark Project). A drum line is a series of fishing lines anchored to buoys with large fishing hooks that are lowered into the oceans. The drum line was introduced to reduce the amount of marine life other than sharks that were getting caught in the nets. These defence mechanisms seem to have a great impact on shark species (ABC News, 2013).
In Western Australia in May this year over 170 sharks were caught in their catch and kill program. This program ran for approximately three months, this pleased the government because, of this catch, 50 sharks were tiger sharks which are a primary target in Australia. This great success for WA now has the state government trying to approve a policy to extend the shark policy for another three years (Courtney Bembridge, 2014). The total number of sharks caught in NSW and Queensland from 1993-2003 was approximately 9321, which is about 932 sharks a year (Australian Government, 2005). Shark nets and drum lines seem to be a successful way to eliminate the shark threat, however what humans are yet to realise, is that the fear of sharks that has risen has overridden the knowledge of what damage is being caused to shark and other marine species in the oceans (Queensland Government, 2006).
Sharks play an extremely important role in our oceans, as our oceans cover over 70% of the world and hold over 80% of the population on earth. It is essential that the balance of life is maintained. Sharks help to regulate the quantity of species of fish in the ocean; this keeps the ocean clean and healthy, as sharks tend to feed on the weak and unhealthy, helping to control diseases from spreading amongst species (London Sealife). Sharks, as a marine species need to be protected and more breeding programs need to be encouraged (Shark Savers, 2014).
The problem is, that with shark nets and drum lines, sharks aren’t the only species being affected, the nets and lines tend to catch and kill other marine life such as whales, dolphins and manta rays which get trapped (Meerman, 2002`). Sharks aren’t the only species targeted by the nets and drum lines, which is having a great impact. Other countries participate in the shark finning industry which is a big money making business. In 2005 an estimated 26, 500 sharks were killed for the finning industry, which has given the majestic Great White Shark the ‘Endangered’ label (Fairclough, 2013). The ocean can’t afford to lose any shark species to the human race.
There is nothing more scary then walking into the ocean without the guarantee of a safe swim, the mention of sharks will give any swimmer a fear deep inside, yet regardless of the danger people continue to swim. If the danger of sharks was as great as the media states it to be, then people would not swim every day. If one decides to go into the ocean, they must learn to accept the dangers that could lie beneath their feet. With the constant attack on sharks one must eventually question what lengths the human race will go to so that swimming in the ocean will be guaranteed safe. Would we be willing to endanger an essential species to our oceans just for this guarantee?
Bibliography ABC News. (2013, December 22). Can Governments Protect People from Killer Sharks? Retrieved from ABC News: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-12-22/can-governments-protect-people-from-killer-sharks/5158880
Australian Government. (2005, March 21). Death or injury to marine species following capture in beach meshing (nets) and drum lines used in Shark Control Programs. Retrieved from Department of Environment: http://www.environment.gov.au/node/14596
Courtney Bembridge, D. W. (2014, May 7). WA shark cull: 172 caught on drum lines off popular beaches. Retrieved from ABC News: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-07/shark-catch-and-kill-data-released/5435682
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