Someone gonna die on a Byron Bay-Ballina beach in January, says shark fisherman…
The debate about shark fishing is the oddest thing I’ve ever encountered. We mow through every living creature that has even a modicum of texture and taste in its flesh, broiled, baked, served raw on deliciously fragrant rice, but when it comes to icing a few sharks we lose our shit.
We’re in their environment, surf at your risk, etc.
To suggest a few nets are thrown up a couple of hundred metres offshore to let the human animal swim unmolested invites ridicule and the sort of venom that has become the characteristic of the rigid left-wing mind (Just ask ’em about that Great Satan, America).
South Africa, South Australian, northern California? Yeah, sharks, we know. I keep a ledger in my head of shark attacks and keep it vigorously updated. With each new Great White attack, I lick the nib and carefully draw an imaginary pencil line through the area.
But when Australia’s north-east coast, home to Bulls and Tigers, sure, but never Whites, suddenly became insanely packed with ’em, attacks happening every other month, you’d would think, logically, maybe the government could string up a few nets?
That isn’t going to happen, of course, at least not without a few years of hand-wringing and a few more deaths.
Anyway, this morning, The Australian newspaper’s Fred Pawle interviewed a Ballina shark fisherman. It makes for instructive reading.
“If anyone in Ballina knows sharks, it’s David Woods. A commercial fisherman, he says he caught an average of 3.8 4m-long sharks every working day for 15 years. Now, having seen a spate of people killed or mauled by sharks around the northern NSW town, he says another fatal attack is imminent.
“Mr Woods stopped fishing for sharks in 2009 because restrictions on catches and the paperwork involved made his business unviable. Other shark fishermen in the area have done the same.
‘I’m predicting there will be another fatal attack in January,’ he said.
“He said this was traditionally the month when large great whites migrated back down the coast. This, combined with the constant presence of juvenile great whites, tigers, bulls and bronze whalers had made the water unsafe. Asked what percentage of his catch of large sharks were species that attacked people, he said: “They all were.”
“A Department of Primary Industries spokeswoman dismissed any link between the decrease in shark fishing and the increase in attacks.
‘There is no evidence that a decrease in the commercial catch of sharks has resulted in the increased number of recent shark attacks,’ she said.
“The NSW government has faced criticism over its apparent sluggish response to protecting ocean-goers, including the possible installation of shark nets on the north coast.
“Mr Woods bought his boat, designed to catch large sharks, in 2001 for $180,000. He targeted tiger and bull sharks and sold almost the whole body to various businesses: the meat went to fish fertiliser, fins were exported to China, liver and oil went to a Tasmanian smallgoods producer and the skin went to a South Australian tannery.
“At his peak, Mr Woods said, he was earning $250,000 to $300,000 a year., but he stopped fishing sharks in 2009 when the department introduced limits of 500kg a week. Now he is earning $80,000.”
“Another Ballina commercial fisherman, Paul Porter, said the worst time of year was January to March. Last year, while fishing for mackerel, often only 600m from where people were swimming, he was losing 20-30 fish a day to great whites stalking his boat. ‘The year before you’d lose maybe one a week,” he said. He estimated he lost $10,000 to $20,000 worth of fish to sharks in the three-month period.'”
What’s it like to have your head inside a living Great White? Click here!
And what’s it like to see your pal be swooped on by a White? Click here?