Culling of Great White Sharks...

January 27, 2014 by dyertrust

In June 2013 the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, in conjunction with Marine Dynamics, released the results of a groundbreaking study on Great White Sharks, providing the first ever open population estimate of this species in the Great White Shark capitol of the world Gansbaai, South Africa.

The outcome of this study ascertained that over a 5 year period, a maximum of 1008 Great White Sharks roamed through this acclaimed white shark mecca.

Previous estimates claimed that this area hosted between 2000 and 3000 great whites

Two of the sharks which were research subjects in this study were killed in 2012. The last one was amale white sharkwhich was caught in the drum lines along the East Coast of South Africa - by the Kwazulu-Natal Sharks Board, a conservation body claiming to be one of a kind, maintaining shark safety gear to offer bather safety along the East Coast of South Africa - and the way they do this is by installing drumlines and shark nets in38 localities. Every year, an estimated 40 Great Whites Sharks are caught in this "shark safety gear" - not to mention all of the other animals this excersize indiscriminately targets.

This is a very worrying factor for white shark conservationists, since white sharks as a species have been nationally protected in South African waters since 1991. South Africa was the first country to do so.The government decision to protect this species was commissioned as a preliminary measure to try and gain a better understanding of this apex predators distributional range and habits, especially since the areas they roam in - and this specific species -were historically data deficient, complicating management of the species in SA.

Research studies completed, and findings produced, under the DICT ( used to educate, advise and influence decisions made by local and international governments on the protection of Great White Sharks.

There had been decades of targeted white shark hunting prior to this time particularly in the 1970's and 1980's along the Western cape coast, and earlier on along the Eastern coast of South Africa as well. Today, Great White Shark hunting is condemned in South Africa. In February 2013, a local fisherman was convicted of killing a Great White Shark in this country, he was fined one hundred and twenty thousand rands and a 12 month suspended prison sentence. This was a landmark decision lauded by scientists, conservationists and the public alike, hoping that this verdict will dissuade other anglers from hunting this protected species in our country.

Less than six months after the release of the open population estimate for Gansbaai, the Western Australian Government released their proposal to cullsharks as a result of an increase in the amount of shark attacks along the Western Australian Coastline. To the shock, horror and disbelief of shark researchers, conservationists and the majority of the public in countries across the world.

Great White Sharks are one of the Flagship species of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.

The DICT, together with tourism partners Marine Dynamics and Dyer Island Cruises, creates awarenes with every person who visits our establishments about the conservation status and concerns that this species face.

In 2013 we reached roughly 20,000 local and international visitors to our establishment, and through social media we reached more than 100,000 supporters during this year.

In South Africa, this species was historically known by its colloquial name Witdoodshaai, which directly translated to English means Whitedeathshark. Founding owner of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, Marine Dynamics and Dyer Island Cruises, Wilfred Chivell, fought a very long and arduous battle to educate the masses and eventually had the good fortune of being able to change this name in the South African Dictionary to Grootwithaai from there on this species is proudly known as the Great White Shark the preferred terminology to ensure that this species is not tarred and feathered as in the past.

The battle goes on to stop the relentless attacks against this species across the world.

Migratory behavior of South African white sharks has indicated (data collected through satellite telemetry) that the species roams vast distances in the space of a few months and often migrate extensively up and down the entire coastline.

White sharkscommonly head east to the Indian ocean and Mozambique, particularly in summer months, with the majority showing return journeys back down to the Western Cape in winters.

One Dyer Island tagged female white shark famously made a return journey to the West coast of Australia, 22,000 km's during 2004.

This past weekend, the 26th January 2014, marked the start of the culling of sharks under Premier Colin Barnetts Shark Mitigation policy in Western Australia.

The first drumline was pulled in along Meelup Bay, and a shark of 3.5m was caught. Thelocal fishermenwho was conracted forthe cull, pulled this shark in, shot it several times,and they identified this shark as a Bull Shark. This was a greatmistake made in the identification of this species - it was in fact aTiger Shark that they had pulled from this drumline. How can you put people in charge of the extermination ofso called "threat" species when they do not know what they are dealing within their first successful "hunt"?The following video is a depiction of this horrific event.

This is a sad day for shark conservation accross the globe.

The DICT condemns the actions of our own Kwazulu-Natal Sharks Board for unscrupulously killing Great White Sharks amongst the many other animals they catch in these drumlines -in our country, wherewhite sharksare a proclaimedprotected species.

We also oppose this decision of the Western Australian Government to cullsharks, indiscriminately targeting all species,regardless of their reasons. A letter of opposition, responseon their decision, questioning their actions and commenting on their motives from a scientific point of view, has been sent to Hon Colin J Barnett and his council, and we are keenly awaiting their response.

Read our letter by clicking on the following link: Dyer Island Conservation Trust - Letter to Hon Colin J Barnett on the Shark Mitigation Policy.

We support our colleagues and friends in Australia during this troublesome time, and we will keep on updating our supporters on the developments in regards to this draconian attack on this iconic species.