Shark smear campaign encouraging bad behaviour
Humane Society International (HSI) is disturbed by the recent attitude displayed by fishermen toward our marine life. The latest media reports which depict fishermen hauling in large bull sharks show a flagrant disregard for the welfare of these animals and their importance within the marine ecosystem.
HSI’s resident marine scientist Jessica Morris said today, “We are seeing an increasing number of catch and release fishing such as that reported in the recent news articles in the Sydney Morning Herald (14/12/15) and the Gold Coast Bulletin (3/12/15), where sharks are forced to struggle against fishermen for hours on end in order to win praise and take a few crude pictures. This behaviour has severe ramifications for the conservation and management of sharks and we feel the NSW and QLD State Governments need to step in and control this current trend.”
Sharks such as bull sharks are highly sensitive to mortality post capture due to the high stress experienced when fighting on a fishing line. Often, the shark will be released alive only to suffer mortality when back in the water due to the physiological stress experienced during capture. Bull sharks and species of hammerheads are among those most susceptible to this kind of death.
“Sharks have developed an unjust reputation in the media and with fishermen, but this does not justify the callous and violent way in which they are being treated. These animals are one of the most important species within the marine ecosystem, and in Australia too many sharks are being caught and killed due to commercial and recreational fishing and the shark control programs in NSW and QLD,” said Ms Morris.
“We saw the reaction from the public when Cecil the Lion was killed in Africa, a top predator vital for maintaining the functioning of the ecosystem – so why do we allow the same to happen to our marine top predators? The attitude towards sharks in recent times has been appalling and we need to remind ourselves that they are an integral part of the natural world, and at the end of the day this is not how we should be treating our wildlife,” Ms Morris concluded.