Massive protest in response to shark culling shame
KEEN scuba diver Andrew Nieuwenhof hasn't participated in a protest march since the Vietnam War 40 years ago but he wasn't going to miss Byron Bay's part in a national protest against shark culling.
Mr Nieuwenhof was one of what he estimated to be about 200 people who took to the beaches of Byron Bay on Saturday to draw attention to the WA Government's response to recent attacks by great white sharks.
"They (the protesters) were nice and vocal," the Lennox Head resident said.
"It created a lot of interest and we picked up a few extras as we moved along the beach."
Mr Nieuwenhof said WA Premier Colin Barnett was guilty of a total overreaction.
"It's outrageous what he's doing in the wild west; it's real red neck behaviour done for political purposes," Mr Nieuwenhof said.
"He was on the news last night holding a huge hook that they will attach to a drum load off WA beaches.
"This will be indiscriminate killing of sea life, not just great whites. All sorts of marine life will be at risk.
"The entire scientific community is saying this culling will be useless.
"Mr Barnett is just reacting to enhance his image among what he calls his silent majority
"Sharks are simply behaving normally in their own territory and only very few people ever have an encounter.
"There is nothing more awesome than seeing sharks out there. For me it's one of the great joys to see a shark swimming around Julian Rocks."
Shark culling was part of a broader issue of what Mr Nieuwenhof described as government mismanagement of coastal areas.
"The O'Farrell government is loosening restrictions on fishing in NSW marine parks," he said.
"And among the first decisions of the Abbott Federal Government were giving the go-ahead for the expansion of Abbott Point (coal terminal) on the Great Barrier Reef and suspending marine parks."
Not without a fight for wildlife
THE largest protest on Saturday was at Cottesloe Beach in Perth, which attracted 4500 people.
As well as Perth and Byron Bay, protests were held in Broome, Bunbury, Adelaide, Melbourne, the Central Coast and the Gold Coast.
Protesters claim that culling sharks will not reduce attacks and the Greens say they are investigating the legality of killing protected species.
WA Acting Premier Kim Hames was unmoved by the furore and said his government would press ahead with the plan to place 72 baited hooks off beaches from Friday.
Protesters said the turnout indicated the level of opposition to the policy, which was announced after the death of surfer Chris Boyd near Gracetown in November.