Killing sharks solves nothing

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 July, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 July, 1995, 12:00am

I AM writing with reference to the letter by David Lieu (South China Morning Post, July 3) advocating the use of grenades against sharks.

Mr Lieu is surprised that all the Government has done is close beaches and commission studies instead of calling for the killing of sharks in Hong Kong waters. Instead, Mr Lieu has proposed that when we find sharks, we kill them with hand grenades. In his view, the death of sharks would 'solve the problem once and for all'. In fact, why stop there? Why not have the Government appeal to all nations to launch a worldwide crusade against sharks? If we killed them all, we'd never have to face this problem again.

This view that the shark is entirely to blame is at best naive, and at worst utterly irresponsible.

Sharks did not kill those people out of malice. They were killed for a more fundamental reason. They needed nourishment, as do all other organisms on this planet.

The first death was largely unavoidable. It took place without prior warning. No other shark attacks had occurred during the year. The second and third deaths, however tragic, were largely avoidable. Sharks live in the water and have been responsible for three deaths so far. Do you wish to be eaten by a shark? If the answer is no, then stay out of the water.

Mr Lieu criticises the Agriculture and Fisheries Department for not doing enough. Studies by the Government will help us understand the behaviour and actions of sharks and help formulate less destructive strategies to deal with the situation. Believe it or not, knowledge can be a weapon.

This attitude of solving the problem by killing sharks is typical of egocentric human thinking. What gives us the right to kill them merely because they have followed biological pressures and killed humans for food.

Humans do not own the Earth. We share it with a plethora of life forms that have adapted to survive even though we have drastically altered almost every aspect of the planet's workings. Humans are not the best species on this planet, we aren't even the most numerous species. It is about time we gave a little respect to more wondrous and even dangerous creatures we share our planet with.