SA in great white fight

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Copy of ca p08 Shark Protest2462 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Protesters gather outside the CTICC to demonstrate against Western Australias shark culling policy. Picture: Willem Law

Cape Town - Shark activists protested outside the Mining Indaba at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) against Western Australia’s shark culling programme on Wednesday.

“Sharks much prefer seal or stingray or fish. Let’s face it; we’re just not their favourite dish.”

This was one of the messages directed at Western Australia premier Colin Barnett from the Australian and South African shark activists.

Barnett, who is in the city for the indaba, has been criticised in his home country by shark activists for his shark control policy, which started two weeks ago.

The policy involves culling large sharks using baited drum lines off the Western Australian coast.

Public safety was the main reason for the policy following seven fatal attacks in Western Australia in the past three years.

Protest organiser Sharon Martin, a conservationist and shark advocate, said the protest was not only to join Australian activists in a global opposition to the policy, but also to raise awareness of the white shark populations of southern Africa that migrate to that area.

“We know our sharks migrate to Western Australia and the great white is important as it keeps our ecosystem in balance, so we cannot allow them to be killed off,” she said.

Great whites were also important for the local economy because they attracted tourists.

“Our own great whites, in our own waters that support our local economy through tourism, are being killed over there and South Africans need to understand the importance of the point we are trying to get across.”

Richard Peirce, chairman of the Shark Trust UK, who has spent years campaigning for sharks, said the protest was an important demonstration and part of a jigsaw in the fight against dwindling shark numbers.

“The white shark numbers are a particular concern as they are an endangered species. We don’t know how many there are but the likelihood is that the numbers are low.

“The Earth’s wildlife is our heritage and the ocean is their home. Sharks have been living on the planet long before humans even put on bathing suits,” said Peirce.

So far this year four tiger sharks have been killed off Western Australia. - Cape Argus

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