Australia’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recommended Western Australia (WA) end its controversial shark killing program. This summer, baited drumlines will not be deployed in Western Australia.
The policy allowing for the culling of any sharks longer than 3m was introduced after seven lethal shark attacks in three years off West Australian beaches. WA’s government proposed the new program in an effort to keep beachgoers safe that involved setting out baited drum lines, which consist of a large baited hook attached to a buoy and an anchor to hold it in place, in designated zones along popular beaches with the intention of killing great white sharks, bull sharks and tiger sharks who were larger than three meters.
The plan sparked outrage from conservation organizations, local communities. politicians, celebrities and marine scientists from around the world who criticized it for being nothing more than a pointless cull that would have a devastating impact on marine ecosystems, while doing nothing to really keep people safe.
This past May, government figures were released showing the shark death toll. Between January and April, 172 sharks were caught and 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. Yet not a single great white, who are believed to be responsible for the fatal attacks, was caught.
Citing “a high degree of scientific uncertainty” about the impact of drumlines on the great white shark population, the Environmental Protection Authority recommended that the state’s controversial shark culling program not be extended.
The EPA’s recommendation is open to public appeal for two weeks, with a final decision on the shark cull to be made in October by the WA environment minister, Albert Jacobs. The program also needs to be approved by the federal environment minister, Greg Hunt.