Around 250 people rallied at Kingscliff on Saturday in a unified show of strength around the country calling for the immediate stop to the controversial shark cull in Western Australia.
Experts say drum lines with baits and hooks along the Perth coast are targeting threatened species and vulnerable marine life.
Tweed Greens spokesperson Dawn Walker said the rally sent a strong message to WA that Australians ‘don’t want this cruel and illogical marine policy’ and that WA premier Colin Barnett ‘should admit he was wrong and end the cull immediately.
‘It is a knee-jerk reaction to the environment, like something you’d see from the 1960s,’ Ms Walker said.
‘Globally treaties to protect sharks and recovery plans are in place, but here the federal environment minister Greg Hunt has granted the exception that allows this cull to proceed.
‘We expect better from the person responsible for protecting our threatened species.’
Ms Walker said Greens marine spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert will present a petition to the Senate in the coming weeks with more than 79,000 people opposed to the cull.
Senator Siewert said there has been a passionate response from people around Australia and around the world to this cull.
‘The WA and federal governments will be held to account for reckless, knee-jerk policy making,’ Senator Siewert said.
‘Drum lines are indiscriminate and threaten a range of marine animals. We’ve already seen undersized sharks caught, and WA’s other marine life is under threat.
‘Strong, non-lethal policy options exist that can educate and protect the public, including monitoring, tracking and tagging, and personal deterrent technologies.’
Fishing in marine sanctuaries
Meanwhile, Byron Bay’s Main Beach on Saturday morning saw a large gathering of passionate ocean advocates calling for continued protection of marine zones.
Chris Deimel, from Positive Change for Marine Life which organised the event, said it aimed to draw attention to the ‘imminent danger to marine conservation posed by the NSW government’s impending decision on whether or not to allow recreational line fishing in the state’s marine sanctuaries’.
‘For much of the past year, a blind eye has been turned to recreational fishers within the sanctuary zone, and this looks set to be made official and permanent this week, despite overwhelming scientific advice and public opinion against the move,’ Mr Deimel said.
‘The government delayed a decision about the controversial plan due to concerns raised by scientists and the diving industry, however an announcement is now due in the next two weeks.
‘A joint statement to premier O’Farrell by over 200 NSW marine scientists condemning the changes, a survey showing 93 per cent public opposition, and even 91 per cent of recreational fishers surveyed being opposed, may all be disregarded in favour of pandering to the clamourings of hunting and fishing lobbies.
‘Southern Cross University’s Stephen Smith argues “there is overwhelming scientific evidence to support the use of marine parks for conservation management and we want the government to listen to scientists”.
‘Positive Change for Marine Life believes this issue to be of great importance on both the local and state scale.
‘Only seven per cent of the NSW coastline is currently set aside as sanctuary “no-take” zones, and these areas function much as national parks do on land, providing undisturbed habitat for species to breed and flourish.
Positive Change’s founder Karl Goodsell said ‘locally, people should also be concerned by the possible degradation of Byron’s unique marine environment, one of the major tourist drawcards to the area’.
‘Marine sanctuaries are vital to this region and with threatened, endemic and endangered species within the area we need to ensure their protection,’ Mr Goodsell said.
The Wilderness Society will lead a coastal tour this week, starting in Newcastle before heading to Port Stephens, Coffs Harbour and on to Byron Bay.
Another similar event is planned in the Bay this Saturday 8 February at 11am.
For more information on Positive Change for Marine Life write to [email protected] or call 0422 756848.