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Giant spider crabs: A shameful act of carnage and vandalism

Teresa Dowding, Hoppers Crossing

Our greed and disregard for the ocean

In the cold waters of Rye, an amazing sight was unfolding. Thousands of giant spider crabs marched into the shallows, forming pyramids on the sand to moult. This behaviour is thought to try and protect them from stingrays patrolling nearby, but it makes them easy pickings for people wishing to scoop them up in their hundreds.

Day by day, their numbers dwindled, as the numbers of humans seeking their unappetising, muddy-tasting flesh grew. The pier was shut down due to crowding twice, but their catchers were not deterred, returning as soon as the police tape was removed. Garbage rained down from the sky, filling the water with chicken carcasses, bait packets and plastic, though bins were nearby.

Finally, all that was left in the wasteland of decaying garbage were a few lonely crabs trying to avoid nets being scraped up and down pylons, destroying the bright red and orange sponges that grow there. Why do we care so little that this greed and disregard for the ocean is allowed to happen here?

Jaci Colvin, Rosanna

When the crabs visit, close the piers and beaches

Must we destroy every phenomenon nature throws up at us? The migratory giant spider crabs on the Mornington Peninsula are a good example. Last year the Blairgowrie Pier and the beaches near it were overrun by people who wanted to see the crabs and many others obsessed with trying to catch and, presumably, eat them.

This year the Rye Pier was the scene of the latest massacre. Divers reported only about 200 crabs were left of the thousands that come to discard their old shells while dozens of chicken carcasses used to attract them were littering the bay’s floor. There is a simple way to prevent these killing fields from happening again. We know when the crabs visit, just close the beaches and piers and let the poor creatures do their thing in peace.

Paul Speelman, Blairgowrie

Introduce a seasonal ban on spider crab catching

I am an avid scuba diver and really appreciate your coverage of one of the world’s great natural events, the annual spider crab migration. The public should learn of both its magnificence and the increasingly selfish and reckless behaviour of crab catchers who turn it into a graveyard of rotting chicken carcasses and littered nets.

I propose a seasonal ban on spider crab catching during the moulting season, which usually runs for a week or two during the first full moon of winter. Such laws already exist for much longer periods for abalone and crayfish, so enforcing one for a world-class spectacle seems only logical.

Implementing new laws will ensure no future confrontations between crab catchers and everyone else trying to enjoy life around the pier. It will help protect our already fragile marine environment and redirect tourist dollars into our coastal communities.

Ashley Cherny, Carnegie


Is the price too high?

Can the Australian National University and University of Canberra guarantee that a pilot program to bring 350 international students to Canberra (including a two-week quarantine) will not transmit infections to the community (The Age, 18/6)?

Even if the trial releases no infections, what then? Can Canberra cope when many thousands of students come? Are there enough hotel rooms otherwise vacant for two weeks, or more depending on holiday flights home, each year? How many students, unable to afford these additional costs, will drop out? How commercially viable is a so shrunken university sector?

Whatever the losses from any coronavirus-induced collapse of the overseas student industry, Australia’s third-biggest export earner, they will pale into insignificance compared to the losses from global warming of 3degrees-plus – where we are headed with the help of all these extra aviation emissions.

Mark Carter, North Melbourne

Power and joy of singing

Barney Zwartz (Comment, 17/6) articulates the problems facing choirs under the current health and social-distancing rules. Choirs can be a particular health risk, but we also need to be aware of the devastating psychological effect not being able to sing together is having on the many thousands of members.

Singing is an intrinsic part of who we are as humans and many studies have been done on the benefits of singing for every part of our lives, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. As choristers, it feels as though our hearts and souls have been ripped out and we are experiencing a deep sense of loss and grief. We are holding on to that hope of singing together in the not too distant future, not just for ourselves, but also for our audiences.

Joy Hayman, Blackburn North

Longing to be together

While Kaye Fallick – “Parenting global kids: they come and go” (Comment, 17/6) – has said good bye to her daughter as she returns to her home in the United Kingdom, l am eagerly waiting for our borders to open here so that I can see my three (adult) children who live in South Australia. The twins are keen to celebrate their belated 21st birthdays.

Jennifer Jones, Horsham

Immoral to discriminate

Raff Ciccone says he is “not suggesting that we vaccinate people against their will”, then goes on to propose a range of measures to severely limit the freedom of those who would choose not to vaccinate against COVID-19 (Comment, 17/6).

While this is premature, it is also frightening. It is immoral for a government to discriminate against people for refusing medical treatment whether their reasons are rational, moral or ill-informed. It is also frightening that “governments have [already] gone some way to doing this”.

Marlene Magee, Lilydale

Nana, just one of the boys

For months now, I have been avoiding hugging friends and loved ones. Since watching the AFL, I have taken to grabbing them round the waist, holding them tight and slinging them to the ground. Nana didn’t like it much but, apparently, it is acceptable.

Merv Collins, Fitzroy North

Culture of independents

In the original practice of democracy, communities elected their own representative to put their position, all independents. Political parties were always designed to stack the Parliament with a “like-minded group” or more likely a group that would follow orders to gain power.

If we wish to change this culture, we need to inform ourselves and vote for independents and minor parties that truly represent our local communities. Or stack the major parties with local, independent thinkers who will end the culture of career politicians and party apparatchiks.

Peter Brady, Mount Martha

Not youth’s kind of party

What fantastic role models our Labor politicians are for the younger generation. In light of the back stabbing, corruption, foul language, nepotism and misogyny shown in the last few days, why would any young person, especially a woman, want to join the Labor Party?

Julie Hall, Surrey Hills

Fresh approach to ALP…

As an active ALP member for more than 25 years, I have been calling for an overhaul of it based on the Bob Hawke/Neville Wran and John Faulkner committee recommendations. This recent crisis highlights the need to restructure the ALP so that it becomes more democratic and more accountable to rank and file members, and the influence of factional warlords is reduced.

The factional system should be scrapped. It has created corrupt power bases and great divisions within the ALP. The left-right divide is irrelevant in the 21st century. We must create policies relevant to the betterment of society, aiming for a constructive platform to advance democracy.

I trust Steve Bracks and Jenny Macklin will take these comments into account when they look at restructuring the Victorian branch. The restructuring of the ALP nationally is also needed.

David Orr, Croydon

…and to preselections

The culture of being involved in political parties has always been problematic and quite unprofessional with factional bully boys. You would have to be naive to think this only occurs within the ALP. Former federal MP Julia Banks walked away from the Liberal Party when she exposed the toxicity within it.

She said the disturbing behaviour she witnessed was quite sexist and tribal in nature, with bullying and intimidation by both Liberal and Labor MPs (The Age, 30/8/18).. It seems we will not be able to combat the disgusting behaviour without radical changes to preselecting candidates.

Melina Smith, Brighton

More local ‘stacking’

Branch stacking has been going on quite openly in the City of Boroondara for years. We are asked to cut them into lengths not exceeding 1.5metres and leave them on the nature strip for collection. There is obviously a deeper issue here which I do not understand.

Jim Pilmer, Camberwell

The church gets richer

It must be a bad taste joke. Roman Catholic priests are receiving JobKeeper payments. Are other religious institutions taking part in this rort? Why is the taxpayer paying these people who are supposedly “serving” one of the wealthiest institutions in the world? The Vatican could wipe out poverty among Catholic-dominant countries (in South America, for example) by letting go of a fraction of its riches, hidden away from world view to keep “the church” in a position of power.

The Catholic Church has agreed to pay millions of dollars (still not enough) to thousands of aggrieved and destroyed victims of sexual abuse without batting an eyelid. It now has the gall to expect payouts to those who took a vow of poverty and chastity (ha!) to serve the god they supposedly believe in. What an opportunistic money grab.

Sandra Patton, Talbot

Support, but not for all

That the Catholic Church can access JobKeeper while universities cannot tells you everything you need to know about the Coalition. Thoughts and prayers over science and knowledge. I know which I would invest in if I were serious about our old mate, Jobson Growth.

John Everett, Eltham

A mockery of justice

Evidence against Bernard Collaery is being heard in secret in the ACT because he blew the whistle on the spy scandal in East Timor. The government does not want to air its dirty laundry. It is disturbing that a whistleblower gets this shameful version of “justice”.

Cathy Altmann, Box Hill

One nation, one people

What a stupid thing Dan Andrews did when he insulted South Australia – “Why would you want to go there (SA)?” (The Age, 18/6). Many families have members in both states. I have been helping my South Australian grandson with his schoolwork via the internet. We have been researching the Gallipoli campaign and the horrendous waste of precious young lives there. Young men from every state spilt their blood on that foreign shore. What would they think of this petty interstate rivalry? We are Australians first and foremost. Statehood surely is of secondary importance?

Sheryl Henderson, Castlemaine

Keep Russia out of the G7

Dave Sharma, it is not time to bring Russia in from the cold (The Age, 13/6). In 1994 Russia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States signed the Budapest Memorandum. Ukraine was compelled to surrender – to Russia – the third-largest nuclear arsenal in the world in return for its territorial integrity and security. Russia violated the agreement when it annexed Crimea and, as a result, was excluded from the G7.

The Kremlin has shown no interest in ending its aggression against Ukraine. Sporadic fighting continues in a conflict that has claimed 14,000 lives. Since 2014, Moscow has engaged in everything from cyber attacks, political assassinations and attempted coups to support for radical political parties, separatist movements and disinformation campaigns in the EU and US. Welcoming an unrepentant Russia back to G7 would tacitly condone its hostile conduct.

Mr Sharma says the Soviet Union’s behaviour changed when China was brought back in from the cold after Richard Nixon’s visit there. Russia is not the Soviet Union. With the US out in the cold, relying on Russia is an illusion. China dominates every aspect of the two countries’ partnership. Its economy is six times larger and its power is growing, as Russia’s fades. Far from being an equal partner, Russia is evolving into a Chinese tributary.

George Jaworsky, Association of Ukrainians in Victoria, Essendon


Branch stacking

Daniel wonders why anyone would go to SA. He’s too busy with branch stacking to go anywhere.

Tony Tehan, Mansfield

Who’s investigating this in the Liberal Party? It isn’t happening? Really?

Gerry Danckert, Torquay

And I thought branch stacking was making a bonfire for cracker night.

Rob Upson, Kennington

How can Labor’s elders look into the Labor Party? Foxes in the chicken coop.

Joan Mok, Kew

What’s the difference between the systemic corruption of state branch stacking and federal grant stacking?

Michael Powell, Springfield, Tas

Branch stacking: how to start a bonfire.

Jon O’Neill, Waurn Ponds

Victoria’s ALP members denied voting rights for three years. That’s real power play.

Malcolm Cameron, Camberwell


Marise Payne shirt-fronted both Russia and China. That’s how it’s done, Tony.

Neil McMillan, Point Cook

Question time on Wednesday. Ugly. What’s happened to the humanism we’ve recently seen?

Marg Welsh, Abbotsford

What about removing “stupidity” from the selection criteria for aspiring politicians?

Ian Maddison, Parkdale


Why are priests eligible for JobKeeper when other performers are excluded?

Lee Guion, Portarlington

When will I get bored with celebrating “another week with no black deaths in custody”? Never.

Marion Robertson, Ivanhoe East

Ironing (Comment, 18/6) is the second-biggest waste of a man’s time ever invented. The first? Making the bed.

Alan Duncan, Frankston South

We need our trusted ABC and its even-handed reporting more than ever. Don’t lay off more staff.

Christina Millott, Kew

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