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Western Australia’s Cruel Shark Cull Ends With Too Many Innocent Casualties

Western Australia’s Cruel Shark Cull Ends With Too Many Innocent Casualties

The latest government figures released this week showing the number of sharks that have been killed as part of a questionable program to protect people have added fuel to the controversy surrounding Western Australia’s (WA) cull, which ended last week.

Following fatal attacks on seven people over the last three years, the government launched a program targeting tiger sharks, bull sharks and great white sharks over 10 feet long by setting out baited drum lines in designated zones along popular beaches.

Government figures show 172 sharks were caught between January 25 and April 30, while 50 tiger sharks longer than 10 feet were killed. Figures also show that 14 sharks measuring less than 10 feet died on the drum line and four more were destroyed because they were too weak to survive the ordeal. Stingrays and mako sharks, who are a protected species, were killed as bycatch on drum lines.

Even though great whites are believed to be responsible for most of the fatal attacks, not a single one was caught. Still, Fisheries Minister Ken Baston called the program a success, saying it “restored confidence in beachgoers.”

The government’s theory was that reducing the overall number of large sharks would automatically reduce the risk and number of attacks, but conservationists and shark advocates beg to differ. Those opposed to the cull don’t believe randomly killing sharks who may or may not ever attack a person will do anything to improve safety for people, but it will have a devastating impact on marine ecosystems. Others worry that this could backfire by creating a false sense of security. If there are any sharks in water, there is still a risk.

They also argue that needlessly killing sharks while efforts are underway to protect populations from disappearing entirely around the world, who are threatened as a result of human activities, is a slap in the face to everyone who has worked to protect them and educate us about how important they are to healthy oceans.

Labor fisheries spokesman Dave Kelly said the program was very unpopular, telling The Independent that, “It has hardly caught any of the sharks it was destined to catch and the government hasn’t produced any scientific evidence to say that the policy is working.”

Despite ongoing protests, criticism and widespread opposition from the public and scientific community, the government has applied to extend the program for another three years. The proposal will be assessed by WA’s Environmental Protection Authority, but some politicians are already coming out in opposition.

“The WA Government’s attempts to justify this policy are utter nonsense- they have thrown science out the window. The Federal Government must reject the three year extension of the cull; it has no scientific credibility and is clearly nothing more than a PR exercise,” said Senator Rachel Siewert, who vowed to continue campaigning until sharks are safe.

Members of the Green party, who have spoken out against the cull before, continue to call on the government to invest in other strategies that will protect both sharks and people, including more research on shark behavior and education for the public.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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135 comments

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3:29PM PDT on Aug 25, 2014

Sharks are not contained with a fence to overpopulate an area like deer tend to be. I do not understand why man needs to cull...

8:47PM PDT on Jul 26, 2014

Australia are massive hypocrites. Kangaroos, dingos and now sharks are the result of their disrespect for life. And they claim to be environmentally aware. Nothing could be further than the truth. Any areas overrun by European colonizers has been ruined.

7:53AM PDT on Jun 17, 2014

I can't find the right words to express my disgust.

9:27PM PDT on May 27, 2014

Of all the stupidity. Was any other outcome really expected. That ludicrous action is no better that the long-ling fishing or net fishing that kills everything except what they are fishing for off of California's coast. I always thought better of Australia and their treatment of the wildlife but this one really drops their accountability.

10:23AM PDT on May 27, 2014

RIDICULOUS

7:40AM PDT on May 26, 2014

The stupidity of humanity knows no bounds. Btw, a live shark is infinitely more profitable than a dead one. But that should have nothing to do with it anyhow. It'll be a good day for the Earth when the human species has wiped itself out.

4:19AM PDT on May 17, 2014

This is horrible. Stop killing sharks!!

4:11AM PDT on May 17, 2014

Seriously. Humans are incredible stupid and ignorant. In America there are people shooting other people cause they came accidently in their backyards. There are wars ongoing about territorial issues. But if a shark attackts one human during he is in his territories, he is evil and deserves to die? Do humans own the ocean? Are they allowed to kill every creature that comes across their way? There are people swimming in reefs with the writing "attention! Shark area", but if a shark attacks (that isn't as often and out of evilness like all the movies are telling us) he is at fault?
I don't get humans. How can they pretend to be intelligent and in reality being nothing more than brainless?

9:33AM PDT on May 15, 2014

Shocking and senseless!

11:40AM PDT on May 14, 2014

Well, of course support beach goers and the money trail instead of the environment....UGH!

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