Shark alert - which predator is to blame?

Hungry sharks have attacked three people in the past three weeks off Sydney, Australia.

One of the explanations offered by the BBC is that cleaner waters and a ban on commercial fishing, which has attracted more fish to the area, could be responsible for luring the oceans’ big predators closer to Sydney’s beaches and harbour. 

That is an extraordinarily cynical explanation, if you think about it, and one the BBC should be ashamed for reporting.

If you follow the logic of the Australian source quoted by the BBC, it would be safer to go polluting the sea until the water turns brown and to have fish exterminated within miles of the shore so that at least you aren’t attacked by sharks. Bruce, do me a favour.

There is a much more plausible explanation contained in the two-yearly report on the state of the world’s fish stocks published today by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The report shows that the number of the world’s fish stocks ranked as over-fished, depleted or fully exploited increased to 80 per cent – a rise of three per cent in two years.

The only sensible explanation for this is the world’s fishing fleets remain out of control and politicians are unaware or unwilling to do something about the problem.

Check out another report today, Hungry Oceans: What happens when the prey is gone?, compiled from scientific sources by the environmental group Oceana. This shows that scientists around the world are reporting ocean predators emaciated from lack of food, vulnerable to disease and lacking the energy to reproduce.

Scrawny dolphins, whales, tuna and bass have been reported along coastlines around the world.

At the same time, we continue to hunt their prey, the small fish such as herring, menhaden, anchovy and sand eel which the major predators depend on, to provide feedstock for the fast-growing fish farming industry. We have forgotten to leave enough fish in the sea for predator fish.

Isn’t lack of food the most likely explanation for the strange behaviour of sharks off Sydney?

And isn’t the creation of larger areas, offshore, where the bounty of the sea can recover a more plausible way of solving the problem than allowing the seas off Sydney to get polluted again and over-fishing to resume?


1 Response to “Shark alert - which predator is to blame?”

  1. 1 J werry

    No offense, but do some research!! The whole area around where the attacks occurred are marine reserves where no fishing is allowed!! Hence why sharks have been trawling the area for food. Some humans just happened to be in the way………………….The BBC also got this information from the Australian media and didn’t come to this conclusion themselves. Shark attacks are a common occurrence in Australia. You’ve just turned me off seeing this doco now by the lack of research that went in to that single paragraph

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