Shark Culling Must Be Banned: Persuasive Essay

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Sharks are a crucial part of the marine ecosystem. They help maintain the balance and health of the ocean. Shark culling has occurred in Australia in both Queensland and NSW as a response to shark attacks, it also appeared in Western Australia. Shark cull is implemented through shark nets and drumlines. Hundreds of sharks are caught each year in each state, including small sharks, threatened species, and other marine animals such as turtles, whales, and dolphins. Therefore, this essay argues that shark culling must be banned as it can lead to serious negative environmental and economic impacts and should not be pursued when there are effective non-lethal strategies.

Shark culling can impact not only the oceanic ecosystem but can accelerate climate change and increase the risk of disease in the ocean. Although shark culling is leading to the death of hundreds of different marine animals each year, it can dangerously increase the number of particular species. Sharks are apex predators and killing them can damage the balance of the ocean and disrupt every level of the food chain. Moreover, according to Professor Robert Day, a marine biologist at the University of Melbourne, shark numbers control the number of other creatures. This means massive shark culling can increase the population of fish and marine creatures consumed by sharks, which results in the overeating of other smaller creatures and so on, leading to massive changes in the ecosystem. In addition, sharks play an important role in influencing and controlling the behavior of their prey using their large size, which stops the prey from overusing certain water habitats. For instance, researchers in Hawaii have found that tiger sharks help in preventing turtles from overgrazing by eating them, which in turn keeps the seagrass beds healthy. As a result of losing sharks, serious cascading effects can happen to the carbon stored in the ocean, leading to climate change. Furthermore, trophic downgrading, which is the changes to the structure of food webs that happen when removing top predators from an ecosystem, for example, sharks, has become extremely common. That can lead to increasing the numbers of the prey and then impact the ability of the ocean to store carbon. Moreover, in ecosystems such as the coastal zone, which is known as the blue carbon ecosystem, most of the carbon is stored there within the bodies of the plants such as seagrass, salt marsh, and mangrove. The blue carbon ecosystem is one of the most efficient carbon sinks on the planet, as it can store carbon forty times faster than tropical rainforests and for thousands of years. Therefore, when apex predators such as sharks are killed, this can lead to overeating of plants by other creatures, which can ruin the ability of the blue carbon ecosystem to store carbon (Griffith Sciences Impact, n.d.). Shark culling can also result in increasing the risk of disease in the ocean, as sharks are known to choose sick and injured prey as it is easier to catch. In addition, sharks help in clearing the ocean of decomposing debris. For instance, a study of the South African coast found that great white sharks eat whale carcasses instead of killing prey. The researchers found that sharks were getting aggressive when they feed on the same prey while it is alive, whereas multiple sharks were able to feed on the same dead prey. This demonstrates that sharks are selective when feeding and killing these species can lead to the spreading of diseases in the ocean (Welsh, 2013).

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Shark culling can have massive impacts on the economy of a country, as it can affect shark ecotourism and cost the government considerable amounts of money installing drumlines and shark nets. Shark ecotourism is often defined as watching sharks in their habitats without causing them any harm. Tourists can watch sharks during day trips and longer tours, from boats or underwater with snorkel and scuba gear. This industry makes millions of dollars annually from tourist expenditures, which support the economy directly and indirectly. A study done by the University of British Columbia and Dr. Michele Barnes was published in 2013. This study found that, globally, shark ecotourism generates $314 million per year, providing 10,000 jobs. Also, the study stated that shark watchers in Australia expend $23,313,000 annually, which can support the tourism operators who collect profits from the activity, and the government that may obtain taxes from entry or tag fees (Barnes, 2013). In addition, the indirect economic benefits of shark ecotourism can include salaries paid by tourists for local services such as hotels, this helps the hotels to pay for other services and goods, which in turn increase the income of primary and secondary industries in the country. In some areas, for example, the Ningaloo coast of Australia, whale shark tours are very necessary, particularly for remote communities, as they represent an important source of income. Therefore, culling sharks can significantly reduce the economic benefits provided by shark ecotourism. Most of the time, shark culling is applied through shark nets and drumlines. These strategies can be very expensive compared to their efficiency in reducing the risk of attacks. For instance, the NSW shark nets program costs the government approximately $1.5 million per year. Western Australia spent $28 million on shark culling strategies between 2008 and 2015. Also, Queensland’s shark safety program is estimated to cost the government about $1.7 million annually (ACUITY, 2016).

Shark culling programs are ineffective and outdated solutions because there are no scientific demonstrations to prove that these methods can reduce shark attacks and protect people. In 2006, at Amity Point in Queensland, a fatal shark attack occurred at a drum-lined beach. Moreover, drumlines and shark nets are unselective, which means that other marine animals can be killed or injured. The shark control program in Queensland, for example, has led to the death of 44 dolphins and 11 turtles between 2013 and 2017. However, because of the technological developments in recent years, new non-lethal measures must be seriously considered and deployed by the government to help protect both humans and sharks (Australian Marine Conservation Society, 2018). The non-lethal measures can involve public awareness programs, shark spotting, warning systems, and shark deterrent measures. Enhancing public awareness, through media or governmental programs, is an essential step to decrease the risk of attacks. The general public need to be aware of the fact that there are no strategies that can prevent hundred percent of shark attacks. However, practicing ‘SharkSmart’ behavior, such as swimming with groups, staying close to the shore, and avoiding large schools of bait fish, can be effective in reducing the risk of shark attacks (Hart and Huveneers, 2016). Shark spotter programs are also a non-lethal method that aims to achieve a balance between both, protecting the public and sharks. A study by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information in 2017 stated that shark spotting programs are significantly helpful in reducing the risk of attacks. This program can be applied by trained shark spotters through aerial patrols, drones, or from vantage points in mountains. For example, shark spotters use vantage points on mountains near the beaches to detect sharks. When the spotters notice any presence of sharks close to the surf zone, they communicate their sightings to operators on the beach, who then warn the public using both visual warning systems, such as colored flags, and auditory warning systems, such as sirens (Engelbrecht et al., 2017). Shark deterrent devices are another non-lethal strategy that helps to reduce the risk of attacks by interfering with one of the senses that sharks use to find their prey. Shark deterrents can include electrical and magnetic repellents, spray repellents, or acoustic repellents. Electrical and magnetic shark deterrents work by releasing small electrical or magnetic currents that interfere with special sensing organs in a shark’s snout. These organs can be overstimulated, which forces the shark to turn away. The spray repellents are small cans that contain extracts of dead shark tissue. As some studies believe that sharks don’t like being around other dead sharks, this method provides a temporary safety zone for swimmers by spreading a cloud of repellent into the water. Acoustic shark repellents are small plastic devices that can be worn on the leg. These devices emit sounds of shark predators such as orca whales, these sounds can act as a shark deterrent (Doyle, 2016). Considering non-lethal measures to control shark attacks is a necessary approach to provide safety for both humans and the oceanic ecosystem.

Environmental negative effects, economic costs, and ineffective lethal strategies are significant reasons to stop shark culling. Destroying the balance of the oceanic ecosystem that can lead to accelerating climate change and the spread of diseases, are all risks of shark culling proved by scientists and environmentalists. In addition to the economic impacts that are caused by the cost of culling and the decrease in ecotourism in the country. Also, culling must not be the solution when other non-lethal measures can be applied to provide safety for both humans and sharks. Therefore, killing apex predators in an ecosystem to protect recreational water users is not the appropriate action a country can take.

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Shark Culling Must Be Banned: Persuasive Essay. (2023, October 11). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from
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