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Shark culling in Western Australia and subsequent public relations implications (Essay Sample)

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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 . 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. It shall examine background information about the phenomena and its current opposition by the public.

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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. 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 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. 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 swimmers in Western Australia. 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.
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 people’s life and values) and fluidity (how opinions might change over time) through private organization statistic through opinion polls on the issue. 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 Grunig’s 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
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. 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. 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.
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. 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 We...
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