50 sharks killed in controversial Australian cull
None of the sharks killed were great whites – the species responsible for recent attacks
MORE than 170 sharks were caught on baited drum lines and 50 of the largest ones were killed under the Western Australian government’s controversial shark cull policy.
The cull was introduced after a spate of fatal attacks along Australia’s western coastline, but none of the sharks caught between 25 January and 30 April was a great white – the species held responsible for the attacks.
A total of 172 sharks were caught, the ABC reports. Of those, 50 tiger sharks longer than three metres were destroyed. The largest shark was caught at Perth’s Floreat Beach measuring 4.5 metres.
Fisheries Minister Ken Baston insisted that the policy has been a success, saying it has “restored confidence among beachgoers and contributed to understanding of shark behaviour”, The Australian reports.
Protesters argue that culling sharks has not been proven to have any positive effect, and only serves to damage the sea's delicate ecosystem.
Labor party fisheries spokesman, Dave Kelly, said: "The policy is very unpopular, it has hardly caught any of the sharks it was destined to catch. What people want is scientific research to show why the government thinks this policy makes our beaches safer."
Greens Party MP Lynn MacLaren agreed, saying that the cull has not improved swimmers’ safety and should be abandoned: “We know that the great white shark is the shark that has been implicated in fatalities off our coast and no great white sharks were captured on the drum lines in this whole program," MacLaren said. "To claim that this strategy has in any way improved beach safety is complete bunkum".
The drum line program is part of the state government’s controversial £12 million shark policy that also includes aerial and jet ski patrols, rapid response initiatives, and tagging and research programmes.