This is the letter written by Madison Stewart in response to the media announcement from Quicksilver saying they were 'grateful' for the shark nets and drumlines following the death of a great white hooked on a drum line the day their surf pro competition on the Gold Coast, Australia.
Read in Australian parliment, shared worldwide, written by Madison Stewart 2013
My name is Madison Stewart, I was a finalist in the ‘how do you dare yourself competition’ but unfortunately I was unable to sign the contract due to prior commitment to a film I was involved in. Now, for the first time, I am so very glad I never got to sign this contract, I will try and keep this email as professional as possible but that will be difficult seeing as I have spent the last week in cold water filming dead tiger sharks at risk of heavy fines from Western Australian fisheries. I was of course- filming their drum lines temporarily in place to kill local sharks. I have in the past, filmed victims of the drumlins on the gold coast too. To hear on the news, that quicksilver and the Roxy pro competitors were “grateful for the existence of drum lines and nets” sent a sinking feeling to my heart.I am not sure if this is the view of your entire organisation, but what I am sure of is this. Surfing is not a profession- it is a lifestyle and the surf legends of our time would never agree with your support of the unselective destruction of protected shark species for mere comfort in the water. A technique mind you- that merely attracts sharks to the beach with the allure of dead bait, thus making it a more dangerous coastline and a political stunt.
Surfing and recreation is not- NOR SHALL IT EVER BE- a justified reason for the death of animals, death occurring in ways that would be illegal if happening to any other animal.The Great white shark caught on the drum line on the Gold Coast today had not reached the size of sexual maturity, and therefore was not yet hunting mammals, and would have never taken one of your surfers. It is important for you to know that sharks are ALWAYS around, and smell us, feel us and hear us every time we are in the water- and if they wanted to eat humans, you would not be able to go in the water, because they would successfully hunt us. The truth is we share our recreation zones with these creatures every day- the amount of interactions that DON’T lead to attacks are proof enough of their ‘man-eater’ images are false ones a the hands of media and the classic JAWS film. No one is preaching that these animals are harmless, they are not, but as a large voice of surfing and adventure and the oceans being the feature of all your posters with your so depicted ocean loving models, you have a responsibility to watch what you say- and not take your evidence from ill education public, rather look into the science around sharks which will easily dismiss the effectiveness of drum lines.
I have been diving cage-less with great whites, and diving with sharks since I was 12 years old- it is no more dangerous than driving, it is not an adrenalin rush, it is based on my pure knowledge and understanding of the species. Your support of the shark control program equipment which indiscriminately kills hundreds of sharks annually, dolphins, turtles, manta rays, dugongs and stingrays- is an insult to your brand, my occupation and the educated and passionate ocean goers. Sharks are responsible for an average of one death a year in Australia.I will be posting images of the dead tiger sharks I have encountered over the last week on every Roxy page I can find, I will be retiring the wetsuits/ clothes and swimwear you sent me at the end of the competition and replacing it with my sponsorship from billabong.Not now- Not ever- will it be ok, to take the lives of protected and vulnerable species for reasons no other than your disgusting separation from our oceans and ignorance towards a species that defines our coast lines.
I suggest you brief your employees responsible for media statements, because when ones like toady’s are televised, it makes you look like a commercial, negligent and shallow corporation. And I never want to wear or be photographed in your gear again.