Monday, January 14, 2013

January Sharky Interview: Kate Ferguson, WA

In my travels I have met some really amazing and passionate people. I have enjoyed brilliant conversations, lots of laughs and a cold beer or two. I have decided to share some of their stories and thoughts about sharks here on my blog. I hope you enjoy as much as I have enjoyed my time with each and everyone one these incredible people. I will also be sharing a few on my new website, so watch this space for updates.

My first Shark Chat was with Kate Ferguson, a journalist and video producer from Western Australia. I met Kate while I was in Fremantle, WA in January of last year. Kate is a rock star with a lot of passion and we have kept in touch since our brief meeting. In light of the recent shark culling in that part of the world, I wanted to get a personal story about what is happening.

What does the ocean mean to you?

I grew up down the road from the ocean and had the privilege of surfing most days. So the ocean is incredibly important to me. Nothing beats a swim or surf to re-charge the batteries.

Have you had a personal encounter with a shark? If so when, where, what?

Yes. Several small reef sharks throughout the years. However they're quite timid creatures, so they've generally been more scared to see me

The shark attacks in WA have made global news, are you afraid to go in the water?

No I am not afraid.

What do you think of the cull if a shark is an imminent threat?

I think the culling of sharks is indicative of Western Australia's misunderstanding and ignorance towards the species and management of the ocean, in general.

Christopher Neff a Sydney based shark research, had this to say about a recent shark cull, “However, so imminent was the threat that they could not find any great white sharks for two days. So imminent was the hostility from the white sharks that they ignored two lines set with bait. All the while, the public was out of the water, alerted to the potential risks and the beaches were closed.” Do you think the media is just hyping the situation up for ratings?

In a place where not much happens, tragic deaths through any means instantly make the headlines. There is no denying shark attacks are a strong talking point in Western Australia. They make the front page of the paper and the headline of news bulletins, but I suspect that is more due to the tragedy linked with each case of fatality.

You are in media-how would you report the story? Is there pressure to make sharks seem more “dangerous?”

It is my job to report the facts as they are and I take great pride in that. However, I have found some of the coverage by commercial networks throughout the years quite hyped up, which does create a culture of more hype towards the issue.

The attacks are tragic, but do you think there should be an emphasis on education about sharks rather than a, “witch hunt?”

Absolutely. I believe it is lack of education that is creating this "witch hunt" mentality we're seeing now and I think that mentality comes down to a lack of research and understanding.

Does fear make for a better story?

I don't think fear makes a better story. I would rather see a focus on awareness than ignorance in storytelling.

Are many of your friends or family against the cull? Does the general public of WA seem to support the cull?

I am struggling to find anyone personally who supports the cull, but they must be out there somewhere, to be pushing this agenda. I wouldn't be surprised if it is a small, but very loud minority.

Thanks for your time Kate. For more information regarding the shark cull in Western Australia check out these pages.



Stay tuned for more sharky interviews?


1 comment:

  1. A post you posted a few months ago disturbed me about Western Australia. I was kind of under the impression that globally, people were becoming more aware of the improtance of sharks, and Western Australias stance was a real blow to me.