So recently the Australian government won a landmark international court case to ban Japanese whaling. While whaling will continue, the international courts have ruled that hunting of cetaceans in the Southern Ocean of the Antarctic is to end. On the face of it, this is a wonderful, noble cause for the Australian government to back. The unnecessary hunting of the gentle ocean mammals is abhorrent, and has no foundation – for scientific reasons or otherwise.
Dig a little deeper, though, and this court cases smacks of hypocrisy of the highest order. While calling for the world to ban the Japanese from whaling, they continue in their cull of sharks perceived to be hazardous to human life. While no Great Whites have as yet been caught and killed, if and when they are, this could pose a major problem for the species. Great whites take a long time to reach sexual maturity, longer than it takes them to grow to 3 metres (the minimum size of sharks being culled). Killing off the animals based on their size will tip an already vulnerable (according to the IUCN’s red list of endangered animals) animal closer to extinction. The 3m kill rule means large numbers of the potential breeding stock of great whites could be at risk, which is of great concern given how little is known about the global population of great whites.
To date, the government have endorsed the culling of 63 tiger sharks, two makos and a black tip shark. Not to mention the “collateral” in terms of non-shark species accidentally caught or killed. But let’s pat them all on the shoulder for supporting the ban of Japanese whaling, in the hopes it provides a convenient smoke screen to their own ocean culling.