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Attacks May Cost Great White Sharks Protected Status

Attacks May Cost Great White Sharks Protected Status


After a fifth fatality since last September, officials in Western Australia are calling for a review of the protected status of great white sharks.

Great whites received protection in Australia in the 1990s and were then considered likely to go extinct, but now some believe their numbers have increased to the point that protection should be lifted, although the last review of the federal government’s White Shark Recovery Plan in 2008 didn’t provide any evidence that the population was growing and there’s no further evidence to support the theory.

The latest attack involving 24-year-old surfer Ben Linden off Wedge Island, has led some to call for protection to be lifted, while others are less hasty to make that call.

Fisheries Minister Norman Moore believes it’s time for a reassessment and will be raising the issue with Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke.

“If there are actions the Western Australian government currently wants to take to ensure human safety, national law includes provisions for that to happen,” said Burke.

However, conservationists argue that it’s more likely that an increase in the human population and growing number of people who participate in water sports year-round may be distorting the perception that there are actually more sharks and suspect that the slow rate at which sharks mature and reproduce makes it unlikely that their numbers have increased.

Others highlight the inherent dangers of swimming in the ocean alone. John G West, curator of the Australian Shark Attack File, pointed out that there were an average of 87 drownings per year on the country’s beaches. Typically, one fatal shark attack is reported per year.

Dr. Bob Hueter, director of the Mote Marine Laboratory’s Center for Shark Research, also advises using caution when jumping to conclusions.

“The other factor – which is often the most difficult one to understand – is just this concept of statistical clustering,” he told the BBC.

“Because you get two events that seem to be close together in time and space, doesn’t mean you’ve got a trend.”

He believes managing people better and using preventive measures, such as restricting certain areas when sharks are present and staying out of the water at hours when sharks are more active, would be more effective at reducing the likelihood of an attack.

If their protected status is lifted it may not result in a cull, but it will allow for commercial and recreational fishermen to kill them. However, even if there isn’t a killing spree, removing even some of these migratory apex-predators could have negative cascading effects on the marine ecosystem.

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4:17PM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

Thanks for the article.

11:56AM PDT on Aug 12, 2012

Australia should be called the nation of hypocrites. (not surprising because that was the nature of the invading white european colonialist savages, otherwise known as the prime destroyers of the earth). Australia claims to be a "green" nation that objects to global warming, yet is one of its major contributors. Australia is one of the world's largest producers, exporters and consumers of dirty coal, which is responsible for 40% of global warming. Australian invaders wiped out a huge number of native species and clearcut forests, which they continue to do to this day. Australia claims to be a protector of the whales, but does nothing about Japan's crimes in their backyard, and itself indulges in massive and cruel culls of kangaroos and dingoes.

6:00PM PDT on Jul 28, 2012

What arrogance that because we invade their home and are attacked it is their fault! If someone comes into your home don't you have the right to protect it? If you don't want to get eaten don't go into the waters where you know they live. Take responsibility for your own actions don't blame them.

6:00PM PDT on Jul 28, 2012

What arrogance that because we invade their home and are attacked it is their fault! If someone comes into your home don't you have the right to protect it? If you don't want to get eaten don't go into the waters where you know they live. Take responsibility for your own actions don't blame them.

5:54AM PDT on Jul 28, 2012

"Humans "are taking their food away, so if a stupid human is dinner once in a while, the rightful blame goes to humans!!!

1:38AM PDT on Jul 27, 2012

We are invading their habitat, their territory continuously, taking away their food, murdering them for their fins!
But as always it's the animal who is the cause of accidents!
Just shoot them, that's the easiest solution for men!

5:29PM PDT on Jul 26, 2012

Humans are the greatest danger to humans.

4:47PM PDT on Jul 26, 2012

I agree with Regina C ALSO we (humans) have fished the oceans DRY of fish. What natural food sources are left for these poor sea creatures?? There are millions of tons of plastic waste in the oceans, warming seas, other pollution (noise, etc) ............... like the poor polar bears, these sharks probably will become extinct even without humans killing them. LEAVE THEM ALONE.

9:46AM PDT on Jul 26, 2012

Thanks for my green star, Anita W. I agree that sharks are innocent of evil intentions, they are eating machines and like you said, they will take a bite of anything that is in their path. So many people demonize them, thinking they are deliberately targeting humans, I think they are projecting their own fearful thoughts onto the sharks. We share this planet with countless species, and we must begin to honor their rights and allow them to live their lives in peace.

9:16AM PDT on Jul 26, 2012

Sharks are like human babies, everything goes into their mouths. Sadly, when they taste us, and find our taste unpleasant, it is generally too late for the poor human victim.

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