Greens condemn cuts to “world class” shark research

Planned cuts to WA's “world-class” shark tagging, tracking and research program, hidden in the detail of the State Budget, have confirmed the depth of the Barnett Government’s contempt for science on large sharks, Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren says.

 “In slashing staffing and funding for ongoing research using its Shark Monitoring Network, the Barnett Government has removed any remaining vestiges of credibility to the claim that it is interested in a scientific assessment of the population of white sharks off south-western Australia,” Ms MacLaren said. 

“This decision removes any scope for this Government to claim in the future that it has evidence that white shark numbers have recovered sufficiently to allow them to be killed.

“It seems that now that the Premier has been forced to abandon his summer shark cull plans, the Government is willing to abandon any pretence of being interested in finding out more about white sharks off the WA coast, including their population, movements and behaviour.

“The Government’s own SharkSmart website boasts that the Government spent $2.5 million building a ‘world-class’ acoustic array and shark tracking network that will help us understand white sharks better and improve shark safety.

“Some useful data from the Shark Monitoring Network has been collected already and I hope we will see results from that soon, but with these cuts to research on large sharks, there will be no capacity to build on those findings.

“We now have an expensive acoustic receiver system set up in the ocean, parts of which was only recently installed and it is unclear what resources have been allocated to maintain it.

“Having spent $2.5 million on this asset, we should be realising a return on this investment by collecting as much information as possible from it.”