The Western Australia government’s catch-and-kill policy against endangered sharks was put into action on Australia Day – a day when Aussies should have felt proud of their nation – as the first shark was killed by a fisher’s rifle. The shark, who was captured less than 24 hours after the first drum lines were set in the state’s southwest, endured being dragged from the ocean and shot four times in the head before being dumped at sea.
The catch-and-kill policy involves paying fishers to hunt down and slaughter great white (or white pointer), tiger and bull sharks using hooks on baited drum lines set off of Western Australia’s beaches. Fishers will also patrol “kill zones”, in which sharks who are more than 3 metres in length will be slaughtered on sight.
The great white or white pointer shark is a threatened species, and this plan makes a mockery of the federal government’s own White Shark Recovery Plan, which recognises that the great white shark is fully protected in both Commonwealth and Western Australia waters. More than 100 species of sharks are known to inhabit Western Australia waters. These sharks, along with dolphins, turtles and other marine life, will be at risk of serious injury and death if they are caught in the bait lines.
Sharks play an essential role in our oceans, and interfering with their dwindling numbers in this way could be ecologically damaging. There is no scientific evidence to support the slaughter of sharks as a solution to fatal attacks on humans, and a number of marine experts have voiced their disapproval of this scheme. Taxpayers’ money would be better spent on increased surveillance, the development of shark deterrents, more research and better public education about avoiding incidents between sharks and humans.
Australians by the thousands have expressed their shame over this policy. You can help by writing to Western Australia’s Premier and urging him to withdraw the drum lines and to stop deploying fishers to hunt down sharks immediately.
Posted by Claire Miller