Shark Bay 🦈 Shark ark 🚢
While other areas grapple with keeping sharks away one man in Shark Bay on WA’s western-most coast, wants to create a shark haven. Leon Deschamps dreams of Shark Bay becoming a ‘shark ark’, where shark fishing is banned, and shark tourism is embraced. So one of the big things, I think that people need to understand about the Shark Bay shark sanctuary is it’s not just about protecting sharks. It’s very much an economic decision. Shark tourism is worth, predicted to be worth, a billion dollars within the next 10 years by Cambridge University. And the hardest thing for people to understand is why we’re actually doing it. And believe it or not, it’s not about protecting sharks, it’s actually about protecting our community. We’re a fishing community, we’re a recreational fishing community and we’re a commercial fishing community. And all of those things rely on having healthy seagrass meadows. And those seagrass meadows are protected by the sharks. The large trophy sharks are the guardians of our seagrass meadows and so are the guardians of our community. And the way they do it, is they stop vegetarian animals like dugongs and turtles from over-predating our seagrass meadows. Our seagrass meadows, are in greater threat of extinction than any time in their history. The simplest way that we can protect that at this point in time is by looking after the sharks. Commercial shark fishing is banned in the Shark Bay Marine Park and recreational fishers are restricted to taking up to three sharks. You can actually catch and kill the largest sharks that you want to. Great white sharks are protected. Whale sharks are protected. Leon self funds a research vessel to entice scientists to study sharks in the area. What we have is anecdotal evidence from fishermen saying sharks are increasing
[and] their numbers are out of control. I don’t know where these people are seeing sharks but in my experience, being born and raised here, I’m seeing less and less sharks. Having said that, my opinion shouldn’t matter. I’m not a scientist. What we need is scientific opinion. And that’s what the shark ark project is all about. Getting scientists to actually come here and provide good hard data. Good hard data is the only thing which we can make sensible decisions on.