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Should Sharks Swimming Near Popular Beaches Be Killed?

Should Sharks Swimming Near Popular Beaches Be Killed?

The Australian state of Western Australia has approved an unprecedented set of new measures aimed at protecting beachgoers from sharks after six attacks were recorded in the state this year alone, reports the BBC. Sharks deemed to “pose an imminent threat” to beachgoers will now be systematically caught and possibly killed.

The actions have understandably raised significant concerns from environmentalists and animal activists. How will the threat of shark attack be adequately assessed? How will this effect the local ecosystems? Could this endanger the population numbers of certain targeted species? Will catching and killing select sharks even be effective at reducing the risk of attack? There’s also the question of whether the peace of mind of beachgoers is worth the lives of sharks that, in many cases, are protected species.

For instance, great white sharks are the most obvious targets of the new laws, but they are considered a protected species. Previously killing them was only allowed in response to an attack. But now fisheries authorities will be allowed to act preemptively– a sort of ‘Bush doctrine,’ if you will, only applied to sharks instead of to terrorists.

Government officials are responding to criticisms by arguing that the new laws may actually aid in shark conservation and research.

“These new measures will not only help us to understand the behavior of sharks but also offer beachgoers greater protection and confidence as we head into summer,” State Premier Colin Barnett said in the statement.

It’s true that the new law also includes funding for tagging systems that utilize real-time GPS tracking, as well as for community awareness programs.

The statement is a far cry from Barnett’s previous position on the matter. Just last March, he doubted the effectiveness of legislating a cull, saying it was impossible to protect all people at all times.

Of the six attacks recorded in Western Australia so far this year, five have been fatal. That’s an unusually high percentage of fatalities, though also a rather small sample size. According to the International Shark Attack File, only 19 percent of shark attacks recorded since the year 1580 have been fatal. It’s also worth considering that the percentage of shark attacks per year compared to the number of beachgoers is staggeringly low. In other words, beachgoers carry a very small risk of being attacked overall.

That said, Australia is the highest ranked nation in terms of fatal shark attacks, with 217 deaths since 1580. This year’s fatalities have also given Western Australia the undesirable title of being the deadliest place in the world for shark attacks. Even so, Australia averages less than 1 fatal shark attack per year. By contrast, there are about 87 drownings per year on Australia’s beaches.

It’s probably also worth noting that humans pose a significantly higher threat to sharks than sharks do to humans. Research indicates that about 100 million sharks are killed each year by humans. That’s roughly 11,000 sharks every hour.



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Read more: Environment, Nature, Nature & Wildlife, News & Issues, Wildlife, , , , , ,

By Animal Planet

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11:19AM PDT on Apr 23, 2015

Yuliadys L. said: 'killing..... that word should be taken out of the alphabet.'

Totally agree!!!

3:57PM PST on Nov 10, 2013

Some people were made to swim at the beach, have great views, and some even live at the beach. So, let's have some nice beach areas for men, women, and children -- safe from all the potentially unsafe wildlife.

People need safe places for men, women, and children.

6:23PM PDT on Oct 25, 2013

its their home...shouldn't humans just stay out of the water. Its not like the sharks are coming on land and chasing the sharks

8:20PM PDT on Sep 27, 2013

Definitely Not..there is no need to kill the sharks no matter how close they come to swimmers, surfers,etc......I live on the East Coast of Australia and swim regularly in the I and everyone that enters the water is aware that sharks could be around....only one attack in that 20years I've been here...and the surfer involved..said he knew that the conditions that day made it impossible to spot sharks but he couldn't resist the waves..then added it's to be expected we are in their home and not the other way around.

8:11PM PDT on Sep 27, 2013

I don't believe in killing off sharks, even if they're in areas where people are swimming. Find out the patterns of the sharks, and avoid them during mating seasons. Use precautions like, don't swim in murky water, or in dawn or dusk. This is when sharks are most likely to swarm. Killing them off? No. Don't agree.

5:40PM PDT on Jun 3, 2013

So, The seldom or almost never the need to kill a shark -- in this situation.
"According to the International Shark Attack File, only 19 percent of shark attacks recorded since the year 1580 have been fatal. It’s also worth considering that the percentage of shark attacks per year compared to the number of beachgoers is staggeringly low. In other words, beachgoers carry a very small risk of being attacked overall."

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5:38PM PDT on Jun 3, 2013

There only the need to kill -- if the shark comes realy close to the beach and the places where the people swim, and the shark is out to kill. If the shark stays far enough away, and the people get warned to get out of the water -- then there is less or no need to kill the shark. Some beaches have a constant group of 2 people or more looking for the swimmers -- and they sound a shark alarm -- so that people will get out of the water.
If you have mean shark -- that is out to kill and has already been after people -- then you kill the shark -- kind of like other predator animals -- that are already after the people.

10:31AM PDT on Apr 30, 2013

I cannot help but be amused by the moronic thinking of anyone wishing and willing to kill the natural indigenous life of an environment just because a small proportion of people want to enjoy a view, swim and get a tan...

2:48PM PST on Nov 28, 2012

Don't you think it behooves scientists and environmentalists to find the reason these sharks are coming close enough to the beach to attack? Five fatalities should say volumes about something going wrong somewhere!

8:57PM PDT on Oct 11, 2012

killing..... that word should be taken out of the alphabet.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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