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Aussie actions prompt question "What is shark control?"

Great White Shark © Terry Goss



Shark Updates

Find out what Australia is doing to control sharks in wake of attacks

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 22 December, 2013 - According to the Western Australian Department of Fisheries, three types of shark pose a "significant risk to human safety": the white/white pointer/great white; the tiger; and the bull shark. The white shark is said to be the main cause of fatal attacks in WA.

The key measure in the WA package is the use of baited drumlines to catch sharks before they enter the new management zones. While this is a new strategy for WA, drumlines have been used in Queensland and the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal for many years. They have a similar function to the shark nets also used in those regions and in New South Wales. A drumline consists of a large baited hook suspended from a large plastic float, which in turn is anchored to the sea bed.

The Queensland Government's Shark Control Program manager Jeff Krause told Fact Check that in his state, shark nets and drumlines are used in combination along 85 beaches "to catch resident sharks and sharks that move through an area while feeding on bait fish". KwaZulu-Natal similarly uses a combination of nets and drumlines. New South Wales only uses nets, in place on 51 beaches including in Sydney, the Central Coast, Newcastle and the Illawarra.

Nets and drumlines are in place in Queensland and South Africa for most of the year, but NSW runs its program only between September 1 and April 30 and, according to a NSW Department of Primary Industries document, nets "may not be in place on every beach every day" even during that limited period.

The other main component of the new WA shark control program is the targeted killing of all sharks over three metres long that enter the management zones. Experts consulted by Fact Check say this sort of ad hoc shark control is not regularly practised elsewhere, although there was a shark number reduction program that operated on an irregular basis in Hawaii between between 1959 and 1976.

In addition, it has been reported that the French Indian Ocean territory of Reunion plans to kill 90 sharks following five fatal attacks since 2011.


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