Tuesday, February 18, 2014

WA Shark Cull - A Poem

One of the interesting aspects of visiting another country is noticing what is making the news there. On our recent visit to Perth, WA., (Western Australia - they are big into acronyms) a lot of the news was depressingly similar to news in this country and continent: something must be done about alcohol fueled disturbances and deaths, political and business corruption must be investigated, multinational companies close their local operations - Toyota are to stop car manufacturing in Australia in the next few years, etc.

There were some different news stories such as the start of a shark culling policy by the Western Australian state government. This is in response to a number of kills by sharks in the recent years.

There has been a lot of debate about the issue and numerous protests have been held. However the cull is underway and over twenty sharks have been killed. Drum lines have been used, floating barrels with a large baited shark hooks on a line, the barrels attached to anchors on the sea floor. Sharks when caught are killed or set free depending on species and size.

More about this herehere and here. Picture above of a caught shark being killed is from The West Australian/Sharon Smith.

By coincidence on the day we were leaving Perth, the local daily newspaper, The West Australian, printed a poem by well-known, prolific, Western Australian poet, John Kinsella, entitled Shark Tale Paradox, "for those lost to sharks, and for sharks themselves".

The fourteen stanza, 42 line poem ends:

                                          My brother has surfed the coast
off Geraldton for decades and says he doesn't know a surfer

who wants sharks culled. Surfers share the sea, know the risks.
I read of 'catch and kill' like a wanted poster from the Old West.
I read of 'baited drum lines' like a dragnet to convince the public

something is being done, that pain of loss to shark 'attack'
will be somehow lessened, if not overcome. But loss will only
bring life if it grows awareness; death sentences only diminish us.

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