Photo: Rebecca Dollery ABC

by Sarah Drummond

5th January, 2014

Because I recently became an expert in great white shark management on the south coast of West Australia …
Okay, let’s start again, shall we?

Because I recently released a book about fishing on the south coast of West Australia and sporadically mentioned the Noahs that grind around the Sound looking for seals, people have been coming up to me in the street and asking what I reckon about the State Premier’s latest plan to bait great whites that get closer than one kilometre off the metropolitan coast, and contract commercial fishers to kill them.

When these questions first started, I would look blankly at the person. Why ask me, was my first thought. My second thought was, why are you even asking this question? It’s stupid. My third thought was ‘the day when a great white shark bails me up while I’m shopping in York Street and bites me in half, I will demand that they hang it from the nearest baited hook and fire guns at it from a very great height.’

Yesterday, over four thousand people collected on the shores of one of the most populated beaches of Perth to protest against the state government’s move to kill sharks that venture too close to our shores.

Some people get eaten by sharks. Not very many though. I could give you the stats on the amount of sharks who die every year for fish and chips and soup compared to the people who get bitten by them but I can’t be bothered and you can find them pretty easily anyway. It’s somewhere within the vicinity of 100,000 to 3.

I have seen a shark killed by bounty hunters and hung from its tail by ropes on the town jetty, all of her liveborn babies spilling out of her guts in front of a crowd with cameras. I’ve seen their dead bodies formaldehyded in sagging, sad circuses, their jaws propped open with sticks to display the horror and morbidity of their existance. These were the moments in my life when I understood the human drive to humiliate and kill off our only predators left.

The protest yesterday was not so much about protecting our predators, so much as the state government’s aggressive action against them. I can’t even work out how the state government has wrangled a deal where they can kill a legally protected, endangered species. Don’t certain great whites have to be declared a menace to us fun-loving, beachy sorts, to be shot on sight? The latest prerequisite seems to be that, if you are a shark over three metres long and hanging out within a kilometre of a beach anywhere near the city, you are dead meat.

Anyway, yesterday’s turnout was heartening. Thanks to all the folk in the city who let Colin Barnett know that his new macho/politico shark killing exercise in the name of tourism and crime prevention is just so not fucking okay. And as a confirmed fisherwoman, the footage of him fondling that shark hook for the media was disgusting.

In case any of my blogger mates have missed this, here is the link to Val Plumwood’s essay about being attacked by an apex predator. Being Prey. It’s brilliant.

And here’s a link to yesterday’s protest: If you have fifteen minutes to spare, watch the video. It is a great overview of what is going on here.