International shark conference confirms culling concerns

New studies presented at the world’s biggest shark conference in South Africa this week will confirm the fragility of great white shark populations while highlighting the range of alternatives to drum lining, Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren says.

“The Sharks International conference, taking place in Durban, is held every few years and is one of the biggest shark science conferences in the world,” Ms MacLaren said.

“Looking at the abstracts of papers to be presented it is obvious that most other countries where shark attacks occur are moving away from lethal shark control to more modern measures such as area-based deterrents, public awareness-raising and shark capture and relocation programs.

“A lot of research is underway to ascertain the size of great white shark populations globally, revealing in most cases there are deep concerns about the species.

“This matches Australia’s National White Shark Recovery Plan, updated and released by the Federal Government only last year, which found that great white sharks are vulnerable and threatened by commercial fishing and shark culling, including nets and drumlines.

“Yet we are likely to soon hear a different take on the great white shark population off WA from the Premier as he continues to hard-sell his planned cull, and claim the backing of the WA Department of Fisheries.

“However, even the WA Environmental Protection Authority has acknowledged that the Department of Fisheries can no longer be regarded as a source of uncompromised scientific advice on the environmental consequences of drum lining.

“I fear that science may continue to be ignored for political showmanship in WA on this issue. However, many hope Western Australia will develop an internationally acclaimed shark hazard mitigation program we can be proud of, rather than turning up as an international pariah for a shark control program that dates from the 1950s and has no basis in logic or science.”

Note to media: The 2013 National White Shark Recovery Plan can be downloaded at: http://www.environment.gov.au/resource/recovery-plan-white-shark-carchar...