Updated: October 18, 2012
Shark cull: an unpopular response
In response to five fatal attacks along the WA coast over the last 12 months, The WA Government has announced new shark mitigation strategies including $6 million for research, surveillance and a cull of sharks that pose an ‘imminent threat’. The idea of killing Great White Sharks (a protected species) has sparked outrage from local and international communities with an online poll revealing that 85% surveyed disagreed with a cull.
There are many theories about why we've seen a spike in shark interactions off the coast in WA in recent months. Some of the more popular being that these apex predators hunt humpback whale calves on their migration south to the Antarctic, that they could be attracted to the waste from live export ships, or that marine climate change is driving them into cooler coastal currents, where there is little available food. These theories, and the idea of culling sharks, were recently discussed by a panel on Today Tonight's shark forum. If you're interested you can watch it online here.
The WA Government's shark mitigation strategy
- $2million for a new service to allow the Department of Fisheries to track, catch and, if necessary, destroy sharks identified in close proximity to beachgoers, setting drum lines if a danger is posed.
- $2million to continue shark tagging programs, including the use of real-time GPS tracking systems.
- $2million over four years for an applied research fund, overseen by the Chief Scientist.
- $500,000 for Surf Lifesaving WA to purchase jet skis to bolster beach safety.
- $200,000 for a feasibility study and trial of a shark enclosure in conjunction with local government.
- $150,000 for additional community awareness programs, including a smartphone app.
"Many of the above strategies are positive and have proven to be effective, like further research and surveillance. However, the pre-emptive killing of sharks that are posing an 'imminent threat' without understanding what is driving them closer to the coast, will not benefit the current research or make beach-goers feel safer". Jenita Enevoldsen, Wilderness Society Marine Campaigner, Perth.
Five reasons why culling sharks is a bad idea
- Great white sharks are a migratory species, so there is no point culling sharks that stray close to the coast, as there are no ‘localised populations’ along the WA coast.
- Great whites play a vital role in our marine ecosystems and have been keeping our oceans healthy and balanced for over 400 million years.
- Globally, there are calls to increase shark protection as up to 100 million sharks per year are killed for the illegal shark fin trade, and hundreds die accidentally in gill nets or by commercial fisheries directly or through by-catch.
- Great White sharks are listed as vulnerable to extinction on the ICUN Red list, because they have long lives (30yrs), require many years to mature (15yrs) and only produce one pup at a time.
- It’s virtually impossible that the great white shark has seen an increase in population, as they've only been protected in Australia since 1999 and they take 15-20 years to mature.
For more information, please contact:
The Wilderness Society WA Inc
City West Lotteries House
2 Delhi St
West Perth, WA, 6005
Phone: 08 9420 7255