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Shark killings in West Oz anger conservationalists




Shark Updates

WA Government announced shark fishing tactics

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 30 December, 2013 -- There's been seven fatal shark attacks in WA over the past three years.

In response, the State Government announced recently that baited drum lines would be used to catch and kill sharks in WA waters over the next four months.

Sharks bigger than three metres will be caught and shot by commercial fishermen, including great whites, which are a protected species.

It's a plan that has angered conservationists like Ross Weir. Mr Weir is the founder of West Australians for Shark Conservation.

He says he has support to intervene in the catch and kill policy from conservation group Animal Rescue Team and from WA locals.

Mr. Weir said: "We're asking members of the public who are passionate about this issue to take their boats out when a shark of over three metres is sighted, to simply drop anchor a minimum distance of 50 metres away from the drum line, take footage of these commercial fishermen killing these sharks."

Brad Farmer, who initiated Australia’s first Shark Mesh Focus Group in 1992 weighed in on the situation.

Farmer believes there should greater research budget allocations into the study of the so called ‘man eating sharks’.  Of over 300 species, only a handful attack humans generally.   Surfers, above divers and swimmers, are generally at greatest risk of attack or death by sharks.
“If I were watching a young surfer at a beach and saw a large fin nearby heading in that surfers direction, I would naturally want to see the shark take the baited hook on a drum line close by and be humanely caught, than to see someone’s son or daughter be mauled to death”.
Farmer also supported federal legislation as a Senate Adviser in 1995 to protect five endangered species believes that there needs to be a balance struck between the protection of human life and shark life.  While he is the founder of Surfrider Foundation Australia, SFA does not share Farmer’s viewpoint on selective use of drum lines to control rogue large sharks.

“I applaud any efforts toward increasing ocean user and shark death awareness, especially in WA, through a public protest on January 4.”  
He believes that random shark meshing is an ‘overkill’ as it has a 30 year record of high, indiscriminate and totally unaccounted 'by-catch' - mostly endangered species also.  Up to 30,000 animals have died in nets in Queensland alone.   
The majority of Australian surfers, believe that they enter a shared and sometimes dangerous environment, they accept the 'risks'.  
“Seeing grieving families, it’s my personal view is that if a human life can be saved by a drum line catch of a rogue large 'man eater' then that's preferable.  
I personally would surf and swim anywhere regardless of shark controls and do, but as both number of surfers and shark populations increase, there clearly needs to be a urgent review into how we care for both human and shark species.”      
“This is a pressing issue for marine science to deal with, not knee jerk or emotive reactions from politicians.” Mr Farmer concluded.

Caitlyn Gribbin

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