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24 January 2007 - Hands off the Great White Shark      

HANDS OFF THE GREAT WHITE SHARK

Sydney, 24th January 2007          
                                                                                                                                                        

In a case of apparent mistaken identity, abalone fisherman Eric Nerhus was attacked by a shark while diving in Eden, an area with an extensive seal population, a common prey of top order marine predators. It is widely believed that Mr Nerhus’ diving silhouette was mistaken for a seal by the shark.

“We commend Mr Nerhus, who showed great bravery in defending himself during a horrific shark attack two days ago,” said Michael Kennedy, HSI Director. “Furthermore, we commend Eden Water Police spokesman, Sergeant Jim Hinckley, for his comments warning against the hunting down and killing of the shark responsible for the attack, owing to their status as a protected species.”

Great white sharks are listed globally as a Vulnerable species by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the world’s largest conservation network, and are protected under state, national and federal legislation in Australia. However, this fact appears to have been lost on senior Ranger Graeme Burgan at the Phillip Island Nature Park, who has urged water police to carry rifles with the express purpose of killing a great white shark that has been sighted near the park.

“Though shark attacks have occurred along the Australian coastline over the past few years, on no occasion have the authorities or relatives of the victim expressed a desire to have the shark killed,” said Mr Kennedy. “This demonstrates the deep respect that users of our oceans have for these animals and the environment they live in. The same respect needs to be shown in this case, and for comments like these to be made by a senior Ranger is nothing short of outrageous.”

Great white sharks are a slow growing and long lived marine predator that are globally threatened by fisheries bycatch and international trade in their fins, jaws and teeth. International treaties have sought to curb these threats, however, hunting still occurs, and trophy fishing is a major threat to great white sharks.  





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