Sharks are safe now from a deadly “shark cull” that killed many of them in Western Australia. Seven people had been been attacked by sharks in the last three years in Western Australia, a fact which led the government to spend $1.3 million on a shark-cull via the use of drum lines, or baited traps. The motivation for the traps was to protect the Australian tourism industry. Called the Western Australian Shark Hazard Mitigation Drum Line Program, it was projected to last from 2014 to 2017. In actuality, the program lasted four months before the government halted it.
The Mitigation Drum Line program authorized shooting sharks larger than 10 feet in length. Reports indicate that this was not always respected, however, and that some sharks were killed beyond the limits imposed. Due to the EPA’s recommendation, the program has ended, which makes the nearby ocean more safe now for the migratory sharks that were put in danger from the cull.
The Environmental Protection Agency opposed the cull, stating that too many migratory sharks could be endangered. It recommended against the implementation of the mitigation program, stating that there still remained “a high degree of scientific uncertainty” in regards to the population of the south-western white shark. According to the EPA, Chairman Dr. Paul Vogel was in support of research and the understanding of shark behavior, as well as “non-deadly alternatives” to the problem.
Ken Baston, the Minister of Western Australia ‘s fisheries, stated that there was no proof that any of the sharks caught in the cull had ever done harm to swimmers, but that the government put a greater value on human life. Some disagreed with the government program, however. Protesters raised concerns about the effect this would have on the local ocean environment. Labor fisheries spokesman Dave Kelly stated that the program was unpopular and that the implementation of the program had failed in its goal – to catch the right sharks.
In total, approximately 50 sharks were killed, while over 170 were caught. About seven of the tiger sharks killed were female, a fact which could affect tiger shark birthrates in the future. Most of the initial shark attacks had been attributed to great whites, none of which the cull actually captured or killed.
David Shiffman, a shark expert, said that drum lines can be effective, but that they require monitors to watch the lines for other sharks or aquatic animals, and to take the sharks that are captured to an area where they will be less of a threat to people in the water. The cull did not relocate any sharks to a safer area. In contrast to Western Australia’s program, Recife, Brazil successfully brought their waters to a 97 percent decline in shark bites by utilizing this safer and non-lethal method.
Due to the EPA, sharks now living or passing through the waters in Western Australia are safe from the deadly cull that led to many shark deaths for four months’ time. According to some experts, the program did not help swimmers, but did harm sharks that had been caught in the middle of the situation.
Opinion by Jillian Moyet