Skip to main content

Shark culling begins in Western Australia, angering conservationists

By Peter Shadbolt, CNN
updated 10:38 AM EST, Mon January 27, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Western Australian government kills first shark as part of a controversial culling program
  • Shooting of a three-meter tiger shark draws an angry response from activists
  • Seven people have been killed in shark attacks in WA over the past three years
  • The state's premier Colin Barnett defended the bait-and-kill policy, saying it put people first

(CNN) -- The Western Australian government killed its first shark over the weekend as part of a controversial culling program that has drawn an angry reaction from conservationists and activists.

A spokesman for the Western Australia (WA) government confirmed that a commercial fisherman had caught and shot a three-meter tiger shark one kilometer off Old Dunsborough in the South West region.

The government's program of using hooked lines attached to floating drums to cull sharks in its waters follows a spate of fatal shark attacks in the waters off Australia's largest state.

Seven people have been killed in shark attacks in WA over the past three years, the government said.

The scheme has been denounced by conservationists who say the sea predators should remain protected species.

The culling program went ahead after federal environment minister Greg Hunt granted WA an exemption under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act allowing the state to hunt down sharks.

The exemption allows it to hunt the protect great white shark, one of the world's largest marine predators.

Aussie freaks out by 10-foot visitor
Shark, dolphin or is this even real?

"To think this shark had been in the water for 12 hours, possibly with a big bleeding hook in its mouth suffering, is just ridiculous," Sea Shepherd spokeswoman Rae Threnoworth told CNN affiliate Sky News.

The state's premier Colin Barnett, however, said the bait-and-kill policy puts people first.

"I get no pleasure from seeing sharks killed, but I have an overriding responsibility to protect the people of Western Australia, and that's what I'm doing," Mr Barnett told a press conference.

Opponents have pledged to interfere with the program and Australian media reported that shark cull activists had removed bait from drum lines.

The WA Department of Fisheries is currently working on a satellite-linked shark tagging program as part of its research and protection program.

Shark Monitoring Network Project Manager Mark Kleeman said the new monitor near the Busselton Jetty, 220km south of the state capital Perth, would allow beach safety authorities to know, through near real-time alerts, if a tagged shark was in the vicinity.

"Expansion of the satellite-linked network is part of a long-term project to improve safety at West Australian beaches, which will also help scientists better understand the movements of tagged sharks through WA waters," Mr Kleeman said in a government release.

Besides the satellite-linked monitors, there are also approximately 320 seabed monitors located around the South and West coasts that record movements of tagged sharks.

Mr Kleeman said each time data was physically retrieved from those monitors it would also help to establish a much broader understanding of shark behaviur and movement in WA waters.

"338 sharks have now been tagged for the ongoing Shark Monitoring Network project and the ongoing tagging program will continue to help provide even more data," he said.

Face to face with great whites to solve big mystery

Report: Shark attacks are up

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 2:18 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
While aspects of the fighting in Gaza resemble earlier clashes, this time feels different, writes military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 11:54 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
If India and the U.S. were Facebook friends, the relationship between them would undoubtedly be "complicated." Can the U.S. Secretary of State's visit change that?
updated 10:38 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
The death of an American from Ebola fuels fears of the further global spread of the virus.
updated 2:35 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Take a look inside Airbus' new -- and surprisingly quiet -- A350XWB.
updated 7:08 AM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
Flowers, a teddy bear and the smells of jet fuel and death haunt the MH17 crash site.
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Nearly two weeks after MH17 was blown out of the sky, Dutch investigators have yet to lay eyes on the wreckage. How useful will it be now?
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
The U.S. and EU are imposing new sanctions on Moscow -- but will they have any effect?
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT