Mawkish anti-human irrationality has a victory over common sense in Western Australia this week. Following a spate of shark attacks and fatalities in the ocean off WA — seven fatalities in the last three years — the state government announced plans to reduce their numbers by having professional fishermen catch and kill the largest and most dangerous sharks, in particular the great whites.
Inevitably, some non-dangerous sharks and other sea-creatures can look to be caught as well, but the targets of the cull are sharks over 9 feet long, including great whites, tigers, grey nurses and hammerheads — all man-eaters. Since these sharks eat far more other sea-creatures than they eat humans, the plan could actually be expected to benefit more turtles, dolphins and other fish than the number that might be accidently caught.
One fatality occurred just as a nearby restaurant was advertising a “gourmet experience,” a tragedy which led to some particularly offensive (I nearly said tasteless) jokes on the local media.
The government overlooked the nuttiness of contemporary culture. Predictably, this policy of killing sharks led to mass demonstrations on the beaches of thousands of eco-cranks clamouring to “save our sharks!” Someone attacked the State Premier’s office with graffiti and a hammer. This daftest of all crusades reminds one of Tom Lehrer’s comment that the out-patients were out in force. Indeed they came from all over Australia to show solidarity with their finny friends.
The people-haters are as usual desperate for a crusade — any crusade — so long as there is something counter-cultural about it. Any cause can attract a few cranks, but when thousands turn out in favour of man-eating sharks, there is something disturbing afoot.
One partisan of the persecuted piscators made the observation that: ”Research has shown the number of shark-bite incidents occurring each year appears to be directly related to the amount of time people spend in the sea.” She surely has a point here, as very few shark attacks occur on dry land.
Another made the point that “We’re not obliged to swim in the ocean, but some people choose to do so, aware of the risk of shark attack.”
Members of the obnoxious Greens Party, which seems to grow more irrational by the day, demonstrated with a placard bearing the po-faced, prissy legend, “It’s an eco-system, not a swimming pool,” the implication being that humans have no right to swim in the ocean, or if they do, what befalls them is their own fault. It is a neat clinical picture of the anti-human nihilism which appears to have taken over much of the Green movement. Another lamented the cruel fate of “these beautiful creatures.”
Professional fishermen who tendered for government contracts to catch sharks have been threatened by protesters. One website warned that fishermen who catch sharks “will face the public’s wrath.” A Facebook page set up by pro-shark extremists also lists the names and numbers of fishing businesses believed to have tendered for the contract. Another threatened on behalf of the man-eaters, “pickets and boycotts will be effective strategys (sic) to name and shame.”
Anyway, the State Government has caved in the face of this and announced that the culling programme will be suspended.
In this new-found solicitude for apex predators, Australia seems to be catching up with the U.S. and Britain (latter has a lobby for the re-introduction wolves, bears and lynxes — this will give hikers and campers food for thought, as it may give the wolves, bears and lynxes food as well).
Mark Steyn devoted several brilliant pages of his blackly hilarious masterpiece After America to examining the increasing attacks on humans by predatory wild animals — cougars and bears — in the U.S. as the predators, thanks to various green activites, lost their fear of man.
Victims have included eco-warriors such as Timothy Treadwell, whose modus operandi was to sidle up to bears, and sing “I love you” in their ears. Bits of Mr Treadwell and his girl-friend were found in a bear’s food cache, while Francis Frost, an “environmentalist dancer” was eaten by a cougar which had been methodically stalking her in spite of her impeccable pro-cougar credentials.