A Western Australia shark cull is being proposed in response to fishers concerns about loss of catches to sharks in the state. This new proposal would allow commercial shark fishing within the waters around UNESCO-listed Shark Bay World Heritage Area, Ningaloo Reef and the coast of Kimberley.
Why is a Western Australia shark cull being proposed?
The plans come after fishers raised concerns that their catches are being lost to sharks, including when they ‘bite off’ their catch. This is considered a significant issue by commercial and recreational fishers in the north of the state.
Otherwise known as ‘depredation’, this loss of catches is being used as evidence to suggest shark numbers are booming in Western Australia and as part of the call to allow shark fishing.
Sea Shepherd Australia's Managing Director Jeff Hansen has commented on the proposal, highlighting that Western Australia is a world leader in depredation research and that there is lack of scientific evidence to suggest reducing shark numbers will lessen depredation.
“Looking up the definition of a cull: ‘reduce the population of (a wild animal) by selective slaughter', it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that this is a proposed shark cull by the WA Government.” – Jeff Hansen, Sea Shepherd Australia's Managing Director.
There is also no evidence to suggest that shark numbers are booming in Western Australia.
Taking action to stop the Western Australia shark cull
Launched to prevent the Western Australia shark cull from going ahead, a Stop The WA Shark Cull campaign has been launched by the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) and Humane Society International (HSI).
It contains a letter to the WA fisheries minister rejecting the cull – which anyone can sign and submit online.
Removing sharks in Western Australia's waters could contribute to the collapse of vital marine ecosystems and the campaign notes that the cull could prevent the recovery of overfished sharks in Western Australia.
“Increasing the commercial harvest of species such as the dusky whaler, sandbar shark, and endangered scalloped hammerhead will compromise any recovery from the overfishing in the region that occurred in the early 2000’s” – Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) and Humane Society International (HSI).
Envoy Film have started a No Way WA! petition, which is quickly gathering thousands of signatures, and have released their own No Way WA! letter to the minister, which people can sign online in under 60 seconds.
As well as calling for the rejection of the Western Australia shark cull, Sea Shepherd Australia, the AMCS and HSI are calling on the government to look into evidence-based solutions to shark depredation – that would support both the health of the oceans and the state's fishing communities.
“Effectively and safely reducing depredation rates in commercial and recreational fisheries will improve the sustainability of our fisheries, improve the fishing experience of Western Australians, and ultimately support the recovery of threatened shark species that are vital to the health of our famous and world-heritage listed northern waters.” – Shark Champions, with HSI and AMCS.