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Killing sharks: The media’s role in public and political response to fatal human–shark interactions

Christine McCagh, Joanne Sneddon and Dominque Blache

Marine Policy, 2015, vol. 62, issue C, 271-278

Abstract: In 2013–14 the Western Australian Government deployed drum lines to catch and kill sharks perceived to be a threat to public safety. This policy decision sparked considerable controversy and debate which played out in the media. There have been limited studies examining the role of media discourses in the development of shark management policies. This study shows that media reporting reflected the unidirectional correlation between the public and policy makers; while there appeared to be a correlation between public pressure and the decision to deploy drum lines, there was no association between the culling program and public support. The reflective role the media played in the drum line debate was evident in their use of prescriptive and emotive language about human–shark incidents, and the use of two opposing frames; anthropocentric and conservation. Combined, these results suggest that the public policy makers need to rethink their approach to developing shark hazard mitigation programs through ongoing, meaningful engagement with the general public, scientists and stake holders, if they wish to garner public support.

Keywords: Sharks; Media; Public; Policy; Drum lines; Discourse (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2015.09.016

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