Shark Culling In Western Australia And Subsequent Public Relations Implications | EssayIvy.com

Shark culling in Western Australia and subsequent public relations implications

Shark culling in Western Australia and subsequent public relations implications
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Shark culling in Western Australia and subsequent public relations implications
Introduction
In December 2014, the government of Western Australia introduced a shark kill policy
(catch and kill policy) following a series of shark attack causing death of several Australian
citizens
1
. Such policy has raised debates and opposition from the public and companies
concerned. The paper is set to examine the importance of public attitudes towards shark culling
in Western Australia from a public relations perspective. Therefore, before studying the issue of
the public relation, the paper shall examine background information about the phenomena and its
current opposition by the public.
The government announced the shark-kill policy after the encounter of several attacks by
the sharks in Western Australia. The announcement of the policy has raised negative attitude and
opposition by the public. It is the public opinion that the article is concerned and how the
government has managed the issue of shark killing. Public opinion is the aggregate and
collective evaluation, belief and attitude of the people regarding policies, political issues,
individual and institutions. Actions by the government in managing the issue led the public
opinions go against the Western Australian Government because of the following reasons. First,
attack of sharks denies the principles of science, according to director Colin Simplefendorfer of
center for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture (James Cook University) who did
numerous studies concerning sharks for almost 28 years. As such, many scientists have emerged
trying to oppose the policy in the name of science. They argued that, sharks are species that have
existed for 400 million years. Therefore, the issue of killing white shark species and branding
1
Millan, Oliver. The Guardian. January 20, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/20/western-
australias-shark-cull-faces-legal-challenge-from-conservationists (accessed April 8, 2014).
them as vulnerable because of human impact on their territory (ocean) is against the principles
and laws of science. The policy of killing sharks should be put on a debate.
Secondly, the emergence of the conservationists and issue of environmental control is
another reason behind the opposition of the shark culling. According to the conservationist, the
policy of killing sharks breaches Federal and State laws and the international agreements.
Following acts that protect migratory species, international environmental laws, EPBC acts and
federal law, the killing of sharks’ policy fouls, contradicts, objectify and goes against such
international Acts and agreements. The Western Australian for shark conservation (WASC), a
conservation group meant to conserve the endangered species of shark has provided several
reports that call for the environmental balance and protection of marine life. WASC is against the
policy because of the methods used in culling the fish which threatens the life of other marine
animals such as dolphins, turtles and other mammals of the ocean.
Also, another reason for the opposition of the shark killing is based on the safety policies
of the employees. According to the reports from a certain newspaper, several companies have
emerged and contributed the issue of shark kill policy, and termed as a threat to the safety of the
employees
2
. They challenged the government that they could not ensure and assure their
employees against the risk involved in oceans. Companies such as surfing companies and tourist
hotels have a claim against such kill shark policy.
On the other hand, TASMANIANS and victims of the shark attacks have opposed the
policy of culling fish claiming that culling does not ensure the safety of the surfers and
2
Palomar. "Palomar." www2.palomar.edu. n.d.
http://www2.palomar.edu/users/pbowman/PS%20101/Public%20Opinion.pdf (accessed April 8, 2014).
swimmers in Western Australia
3
. Culling is considered cruel and torturous because we are
evading or intruding their habits. Killing white sharks species does not guarantee the safety of
humans. Rather, it increases the level of panic and fear to the tourist and citizens in general.
Therefore, culling should be stopped to safeguard international acts and agreements,
conservation and science, as well as, safety of employees, surfers and swimmers. The
government has not been effective in managing the issue because of the claims that killing the
fish does not justify safety of the swimmers and surfers. The policy seems ineffective following
statistics that the number of attacks since two years ago has remained the same. According to the
research in Hawaii, killing or culling white sharks does not work because of the breeding
maturity of the white sharks. Also, the government seemed ineffective in implementing the
policy and termed it as futile because of deteriorating efforts in culling white sharks. The
government takes action only during after the death of its citizen and not as a progressive
practice.
Also, the government is ineffective in managing the issue because of the methods that are
used in culling white sharks. The methods seem inclusive rather than specializing on one species.
According to WASC, The drum lines are destructive to the extent of threatening other harmless
marine mammals’ species such as dolphins and turtles. Therefore, the government should find
new ways and methods of culling sharks. The methods used has been considered ineffective,
unscientific and cruel. Public opinions have shown a negative attitude toward the government in
handling the issue of shark attacks. The government should learn several lessons from the current
opposition of the public opinion.
3
Odysseus.P.A. The Washington Post. 2014. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/after-shark-
attacks-kill-surfers-in-australia-the-government-is-killing-sharks/2014/02/06/5b9ae112-8b87-11e3-a5bd-
844629433ba3_story.html (accessed April 8, 2014).
Government should understand that public opinions are unpredictable. They should look
at the intensity (measure how strength and intensity), saliency and the fluidity of people’s
opinions before announcing and proposing a policy or political issue. Suggestion and proposals
should be put on a debate before it is presented to the public. In understanding the opinion
intensity, saliency (how important is the issue to peoples life and values) and fluidity (how
opinions might change over time) through private organization statistic through opinion polls on
the issue
4
. The government shall have a better feasibility of implementing its policy. Likewise,
the government of Western Australia should learn a lesson concerning public relations. The
government did not consider public relations concerning their image and relationship with the
local organization and other countries on international acts, agreement and environmental laws.
As such, the Western Australian government should find ways of rebuilding public trust through
the concepts and principles of public relations. Therefore, the paper shall use Grunigs four
models of public relations to examine the best model that can be applied in rebuilding the public
trust in Australia as related to the shark-kill policy.
Grunig’s four models of public relation
Press gentry or publicity theory: a one-way communication
Public information model: a one-way communication
One-way asymmetrical model: one-way communication
Two-way symmetrical model: two -way communication
4
IML. Rationale for public relations law. 2014. http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/fall99/westbrook/models.htm
(accessed APRIL 8, 2014).
The two-way symmetrical model is appropriate for the case of the Western Australian
government and the public opinion. The model uses two-way communication to negotiate and
come into terms with the public so as to resolve conflicts and promote mutual respect and
understanding between the government and public
5
. The model is appropriate because of the
following reasons. Firstly, the government has created a negative and chaotic environment
between them and the public. Therefore, it should negotiate with the public. Negotiating means a
round table debate on the issue of the policy’s effectiveness and importance to the country’s
safety and security. As such, the representatives of the public can provide their views and
opinion for consideration in order to officially implement the policy of shark culling. Acting for
the interest of the public means resolving conflicts that exist after the announcement of the
policy
Second, the model is appropriate because it is a two-way communication, it is a public
and the government negotiating about a conflicting issue. Western Australia has faced opposition
not only within the country, but also at the cross-border level concerning fouls and acting ultra
vires to the stated Acts, Agreements and policies
6
. The government should sit down at
international level and negotiate on the policy and find possible ways of solving the issue
without conflicting the interest of either parties. Two-way symmetrical model promotes mutual
respect and understanding concerning the issue of integrity with respect to the international Acts
and agreements.
5
IML. Rationale for public relations law. 2014. http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/fall99/westbrook/models.htm
(accessed APRIL 8, 2014).
6
WASC group. WASC group. n.d. http://www.wascgroup.com/ (accessed April 8, 2014).
Between 2007 and 2008, Kenya, a developing country in Africa, experience a crisis and
major violence in its post-independence history. Public opinions stood against the press
announcement (social media) of the president from unknown and unfounded presidential election
results
7
. The public went into chaos and violence because of mistrust with their electoral
organization. Such conflicts led to the killing of approximately 13,000 people. Therefore, the two
presidential candidates, Mr. Raila Odinga of ODM acclaimed true winner and President Kibaki
of PNU under the mediator Mr. Kofi Annan, a former UN secretary-General used the Two-way
symmetric model to resolve conflict and cool down the rage of the public. The model of public
relation worked well leading to a coalition government that created a mutual understanding and
respect between the two political parties. Mr. Kofi Annam was able to rebuild the trust of the
public with their political parties through the two-way symmetrical model of public relation.
Therefore, the Australian government can also manage the issue through application of Grunig’s
four models of public relation specifically the two-way symmetric model.
The story of shark culling in Western Australia sheds light on the social media by
opening up the relationship between organizational decisions and public opinions. As such, the
social media should understand the impact of their message and news on the public opinions.
They should implement a policy of public relation known as “shift to integrated communication
whereby all promotion, employees communication, organizations advertisements, government
organizations and agencies, web communication and investor relation is coordinated to give
accurate, consistency and truth on what the organization concerned say or does.
7
Dialoguekenya. KENYA NATIONAL DIALOGUE AND RECONCILIATION. 2014. http://www.dialoguekenya.org/
(accessed April 8, 2014).
Government can protect their reputation in the digital era using the concepts and
principles of public relations. First, the government can go on the Grunig’s four models of public
relations where types of communication determine how issue of politics, institutions and policies
are handled as far as public relation is concerned. Hence, the government should consult public
relations experts in handling such issues. Second, they should shift to integrated communication
as explained above in order to coordinate all sources of conveying message into a single
authority. Also, the use of seven principles of Arthur W. page can help the government protect
its reputation. According to the seven principles, one should focus on; the truthfulness of
information, prove the information with action, listen to the views and opinions of the public,
manage for tomorrow, public relations should be given priority and realize the importance of the
public
8
. Also, the government should be patient, humored and calm.
Conclusion
The paper has brought forth the relationship between public and organization from a
public relation perspective. The relationship has been achieved through the use of the condition
of westerns Australia and its shark kill policy. Due to negative attitudes of the public concerning
the policy from the victims, conservationists, scientists, companies, and other affiliated countries,
it has been ineffective in implementing the policy and managing its reputation and trust with the
public Therefore, the paper has successfully handled the case of Australian government and the
public by using the Grunig’s four models of public relations. The two-way asymmetric model
8
9NEWS NATIONAL. 9NEWS NATIONAL. February 26, 2014.
http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/2014/02/26/14/00/wa-shark-policy-to-be-challenged-in-court
(accessed April 8, 2014).
bears a significant impact as observed in Kenya, it can also work appropriately in resolving the
conflict between the Australian government and the public.
References
9NEWS NATIONAL. 9NEWS NATIONAL. February 26, 2014.
http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/2014/02/26/14/00/wa-shark-policy-to-be-
challenged-in-court (accessed April 8, 2014).
Odysseus. P. A. The Washington Post. 2014.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/after-shark-attacks-kill-surfers-in-australia-
the-government-is-killing-sharks/2014/02/06/5b9ae112-8b87-11e3-a5bd-
844629433ba3_story.html (accessed April 8, 2014).
Dialoguekenya. KENYA NATIONAL DIALOGUE AND RECONCILIATION. 2014.
http://www.dialoguekenya.org/ (accessed April 8, 2014).
IML. Rationale for public relations law. 2014.
http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/fall99/westbrook/models.htm (accessed APRIL 8, 2014).
Millan, Oliver. The Guardian. January 20, 2014.
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/20/western-australias-shark-cull-faces-legal-
challenge-from-conservationists (accessed April 8, 2014).
Palomar. "Palomar." www2.palomar.edu. n.d.
http://www2.palomar.edu/users/pbowman/PS%20101/Public%20Opinion.pdf (accessed
April 8, 2014).
WASC group. WASC group. n.d. http://www.wascgroup.com/ (accessed April 8, 2014).

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