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Paper says shark cull based on movie, not science



Shark Updates

Australian gov't shark program borrows from Hollywood

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 9 December, 2014 - A paper published in the Australian Journal of Political Science has described the West Australian government's response to shark attacks as relying on "movie myths" and having "striking similarities" to the 1975 movie Jaws.

The research describes what the author calls the "Jaws Effect", which he describes as "a political device based on three themes from the film: the intentionality of sharks, the perception that all human-shark interactions are fatal and the idea that killing a shark is the only solution". 

The author of the research, Dr Christopher Neff is a lecturer in public policy at the University of Sydney's Department of Government and International Relations and has previously been critical of the WA government's approach to sharks.

Dr Neff said his research identified "a worrying style of policy making". The paper cited the movie's popularity as a reason the themes from the film remained with many people.

"In motion pictures and on television, the portrayal of sharks is big business. For instance, a leading film website lists Jaws (1975) as the seventh highest grossing film of all time (adjusted for inflation), at more than $1 billion," the paper stated.

Dr Neff examined policies implemented by different WA governments in regard to sharks between 2000 and 2014 and said he "found striking similarities to the 1975 Spielberg classic".

"In particular, the Western Australian government's current 'Imminent Threat' policy to catch and kill 'rogue' sharks is predicated on Hollywood fiction," he said.

Aleisha Orr

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