Saturday, October 22, 2011

Terry Howson Hates White Sharks - Australia

Terry would like to see inshore white sharks destroyed. Image Perth Now
It's tough if you own a dolphin watching company these days.

Used to be back in the 80's and 90's that dolphins were all the rage, and an operation could make a lot of money interacting with our perennially smiling ambassadors of the oceans.

Then along came a few early pioneers who sought commercial encounters with white sharks. At first these few were considered "crazy", out there, not mainstream.

Crazy has a way of catching on and slowly over the past 30 years crazy became mainstream, refining techniques, adding conservation and research, and growing.

Today, "crazy" is a thriving multimillion dollar global industry called shark diving and the pioneers like Rodney Fox in Australia are now under siege from a variety of sources including this guy, Terry Howson, who runs one of the aforementioned dolphin watching companies and who now is calling for a return to killing white sharks in inshore keep the public safe.

"We suggest the Department of Fisheries treat sightings of great whites close to shore or aggressively approaching boats in inshore waters as an opportunity to dispatch that individual shark and prevent the risk of future attack."

Of course Terry has absolutely no proof that commercial shark operations are responsible for inshore white shark sightings:

"Common sense suggests that these cage diving operations are unwittingly conditioning great white sharks to associate boats and people with food. I may be wrong, but until proven otherwise I would prefer that we err on the side of caution and follow existing legislation regarding other native wildlife which makes it illegal to feed them."

But that does not stop the Terry's of the world from demanding justice and blaming our industry for wildlife encounters miles away from operations sites. We have seen "The Terry's" from Hawaii to South Africa banging the same media drum, making the same arguments, as if they are all reading from the same script written on the back of a pizza box that still has the cold remains of last nights cheese toppings on it.

Australia's Gold Coast 2009
These are not savvy arguments for killing sharks and shutting down commercial shark diving operations. They lack data, they lack intelligence, and killing big charismatic sharks because they have arrived to a place where we have deemed them unworthy to be is flat out wrong.

It is unfortunate that many ocean agendas come to play when commercial shark diving becomes established in any given region. It is doubly unfortunate that those who hate sharks will use our industry as the reason to kill these magnificent animals.

Blame the industry for conditioning them, then kill them because it makes $ense.

Maybe if you own a dolphin watching company.