Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Where Have Tagged Animals Gone?

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Where Have Tagged Animals Gone?

Article excerpt

Byline: Captain (Dr) Peter Kerkenezov, Master mariner, commercial diver, veterinary surgeon

A REVIEW of the practices of large shark tagging in Australia signals urgent impartial investigation into apparent multiple detrimental outcomes from unethical surgical procedure and the use of the coded transmitter frequency of 69 kHz. The movement mapping data derived from implanted intra-abdominal transmitters would also be flawed and any conclusions erroneous or clouded due to change of behaviour following surgery. Visual documentation clearly demonstrates animal welfare and surgical principles being violated during catch and release and the surgical implantation of transmitters into the body cavity of sharks. This act of veterinary science is not being performed by licensed veterinary surgeons but by non-vets and there is no real idea of how many of these sharks die as a result after release.

It has been reported more than 800 large sharks have been tagged in Australia with acoustic tags and less than 50 sharks have appeared on acoustic receivers in the past five years. Where have these acoustically tagged sharks gone? It seems mortality and morbidity data is unavailable and if institutions do have such data then it should be made available. The West Australian Sharksmart website reveals only 27 white sharks being detected despite the network being operational more than five years.

Surgical implantation of a transmitter into the body cavity of a shark without anaesthetic is an inhumane act and should not be performed. Rolling sharks on to their backs induces a catatonic state and there is little firm evidence that this equates to a meaningful reduction in pain sensation. Furthermore, the implantation of non-sterile transmitters into any animal, the use of non-sterile instruments and the failure to wear surgical gloves are also deemed inhumane acts. The most fundamental objective of any surgery is to do no harm and the following discussion will indicate this is clearly not happening. The tagging program of sharks may have good intent to conserve the species however growing evidence suggests otherwise. …

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