Ocean News

How Government Can Help Avoid Shark Attacks

17th July 2012

Following the latest fatal shark bite on an Australian surfer north of Perth, Chris Neff, whose excellent work on shark bites and public policies is supported by SOSF, writes objectively on why shark bites occur and the role of government policy in helping to prevent them:

This reality is particularly difficult to deal with following tragic losses of life, and under often-horrific circumstances. Taking a step forward; however, to make beach-going safer requires us to use this reality: to know that more shark bites will happen and to put together a strong community-based education program that does the very best job possible at eliminating shark attacks.

Chris stresses that there is no evidence that state-sanctioned shark hunts are effective methods of increasing beach safety, and that "shark nets to cull sharks have not lowered the shark bite rates in New South Wales and do not cover surfing areas." Instead, he notes that the focus must be on education and fundamentally changing the way we view a trip to the beach, comparing it to a trip to "the bush". The ocean is a wilderness and should be treated as such.

He also includes 15 variables that can be used to make informed decisions about whether and when to enter the water, which include the weather, environmental conditions, and own behaviour/activity in the water. The full article is well worth reading.