Whale entangled in pens sign of things to come
Well, I was a witness last Saturday to the first casualty of the aquaculture pens currently being installed off Broughton Island.
Despite the many assurances given by Department of Primary Industries and Huon Aquaculture Pty Ltd that it wouldn't happen, a mature humpback whale became entangled in the buoys and lines. It has only been in place for a week.
This does not fill me with confidence about the supposed safety of these nets that has been expounded by the companies involved. All Port Stephens residents need to be aware of the potential impacts this venture has on our local economy, which aquaculture will not be contributing to.
Whale watching is a huge earner for this region. Are you willing to risk it or should you be voicing your concerns too?
Shark ‘solution’ outdated
Baited shark drum-lines are certain to deliver much more than mere votes at the next state election.
Why, for example, wouldn’t the presence of appealing drum-line baits attract more sharks to our beaches where “live-baiting” takes on a new meaning with potential unintended consequences for surfers.
Along with shark nets and other outdated paraphernalia unfortunately still in use by the authorities, there is bewildering incompetence from the government and its advisers.
This strongly suggests nothing less than a paradigm shift is necessary from playing hunter to sustainable management if the fear, threat and mounting human and economic costs are to be effectively addressed. Utilising the available technology in aircraft and drone surveillance would be an obvious best practice response for shark detection and avoidance where the killing of marine species, along with any risk of surfer exposure being minimised and eliminated.
More extensive environmental educational and awareness effort would be useful too about when and where not to surf with an emphasis on taking personal responsibility at all times for one’s own safety. This would be a refreshing alternative to dependence on the unsustainable and unacceptable practices of a past era.
Back-flip bad policy
Premier Mike Baird is now back-flipping on his government’s promised science-based response to the risk of shark bites in NSW and it is bad public policy.
The Premier knows rolling out shark nets will not guarantee public safety because bites have occurred on netted and un-netted beaches across NSW.
But what he is guaranteeing is that dozens and possibly hundreds of turtles, dolphins, rays and even whales will be killed by the nets.
These nets will cull the marine life we love.
My heart goes out to those impacted by shark bites, but the ocean is the domain of sharks and when we go in there we must assume a degree of personal risk.
The role of the government can’t be to reduce all risk and we wouldn’t accept permanent beach closures or wall to wall netting from the Tweed to Bega.
The government’s role is to fund research into shark movements and behaviors; to empower local people with information and resources to support community-based observer programs like Shark Watch, surveillance drones and elevated viewing platforms; and to support school-based and community education and shark awareness.
What we don’t need is either the Premier or the Labor Party using understandable community anxiety to look tough while introducing measures that will kill the marine life.
NSW Greens MLC