There has been much uninformed criticism of the WA cull. Similar culling practices already occur in NSW and Queensland. But the EPA also gets it wrong. The EPA boss says that public opinion is irrelevant to issues of environmental protection a statement that is entirely false. In fact the way most environmental protection measures are conducted is to use an approach such as “contingent valuation” to find out by how much the community values the object of the protection. Maybe the EPA boss was quoted out of context but even so this language is most misleading.
The EPA justify the view that the cull causes no environmental harm because it claims no shark species is threatened with extinction as a result of the cull. That in itself is an extremely narrow basis for making such environmental valuations. I find the idea of a cull morally abhorrent because it supports the idea of killing sentient beings in their wild state purely because they exist and may prove an inconvenience to people. It would be hypocritical to criticise tiger hunts in India or rhino hunts in Africa on the grounds that the continued existence of such species might cause harm to humans. These concerns arise even if the resulting hunting does not lead species to be endangered. It is just morally wrong.
It is also inconsistent with the views of the 23,000 people who signed a petition objecting to the cull. The EPA’s boss view that the views of such people are irrelevant to public policy decision making is a total outrage. Who wants civil servants with such attitudes? He didn’t have to agree with the petitioners – there may be other arguments – but their viewpoints were decidedly not irrelevant.