The same group of people who were the catalyst behind the largest public rally in Australian history to save one wild animal species last February at Cottesloe beach are back under the scrutiny of Government media advisors still scrambling to recover from the blow to the West Australian Liberal governments approval ratings Premier Barnett's widely criticized shark policy caused last summer.
In a unique public protest Wednesday night, members of #NoWAsharkcull, FINN Films and the Australian Shark Ark Project took a spectacular projection message to the walls of Parliament house itself, lighting up the public building with their message for the Liberal government.
Far from pacified by the EPA's decision to reject the drumline policy for its lack of scientific evidence suggesting it would succeed, the group has now focused its membership base of over 7000 "Protectors" on removing the Premiere from government altogether and are calling for his immediate resignation at the first annual SHARK AID event to be held this Saturday at the Perth Town Hall. http://www.sharkarkproject.com/cullincup.html The event comprises a free ocean safety alternatives forum during the day and will become a "black tie and boardies" short film festival, cocktails and canapes celebration in the evening. The short film festival has attracted shark loving cinematographers nationally and internationally and the winners will take away substantial cash prizes, camera equipment and shark based holidays promoting Western Australia's tourism industry that is embracing its sharks, in areas like Shark Bay and Exmouth. The most prestigous award for "Best over all film" will recieve the coveted "Cullin Cup", a tongue in cheek trophy named in honour of Colin Barnetts contribution to marine conservation.
"Despite his best efforts to kill sharks along our coast it is undeniable that his actions alone have bought more conservationists and marine scientists together to fight for sharks than any other conservationist or group has ever managed to do! That is amazing! There will, thanks to this grass roots community led campaign, be sharks keeping our oceans healthy for years to come thanks to Premier Barnett. That is a legacy worth celebrating!" Said #NoWAsharkcull founder Natalie Banks.
This Saturday is a signifigant date for the group as it marks the day that Barnetts drumlines would have returned to the water had the EPA not over ruled Greg Hunts exemption. His as yet undefined "Imminent Threat" policy due to be implemented any day now gives Barnett a Federal exemption to kill any shark, regardless of size or protection status, that his government decides presents a threat to public safety. Greens MP Lyn McLaren and Labour Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly MLA have repeatedly asked for clarification on what in Barnetts mind constitutes a "Imminent Threat" and have as yet recieved no answer.
Last season whilst the drum lines were in place SLSWA were forced to use their helicopter, presently funded by Barnett, to direct a Fisheries vessel onto a female tiger shark migrating up the coast. Drum lines were placed within 200 metres of swimmers and surfers who protested vocally through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter at the risk bloody fish baits on large hooks represented to them in comparison to a shark "being a shark." The Tiger shark species targeted has not been implicated in a proven attack in over a century in Western Australian waters.
The targeting of two protected Great White sharks after the recent shark bite on Sean pollard in the states South West has also drawn widespread condemnation from the West Australian community. Pollard himself, an avid surfer and diver, identified the species responsible to paramedics on the scene as "two small bronze whalers". The actions of the government response in killing two Great Whites, one of which was tagged, has led to more questions than answers. The #NoWAsharkcull community who received the support of over 300 shark scientists when writing submissions to the EPA was recently informed that before the sharks were handed over to UWA Marine biologists, the jaws from BOTH animals were removed preventing any further unbiased assessment on bite marks by Scientists whose don't rely on Barnett for their funding..
The Premier has received an invitation to the SHARK AID Short Film Festival on Saturday, unfortunately due to prior commitments is unable to attend. The #NoWAsharkcull group is however hopeful that by this time next year the Premiers schedule, thanks to his imminent retirement, will be completely open and look forward to thanking him for his services to marine conservation in person at the festival in 2015.