HSI condemns WA shark policy
Humane Society International (HSI) condemns the new measures proposed by the West Australian Government to combat shark risks, announced on 10 December 2013. Proposed methods include the use of baited drumlines 1km from shore, and the establishment of ‘Coastal Shark Management Zones’, more correctly identified in the media as ‘shark kill zones’ along the coast.
HSI recognises the recent tragic loss of life in WA as a result of shark bites, and agrees that efforts must be taken to better understand shark movements in the ocean, but this should be done through research not culling. HSI considers that the WA Government reaction is unscientific and will not provide ocean users with any assurance or protection.
With no evidence that shark numbers are on the increase, it is essential that a measured approach is taken following recent incidents in Western Australia, and HSI is urging the Commonwealth to ensure protection measures remain in force.
In WA waters, there are a number of species that are listed as threatened under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) that would be impacted by the introduction of a shark control program. Many of these are listed on page 18 of the McPhee report, but include the white shark, grey nurse shark, two sawfish species, a number of turtle species, the Australian sea lion, the humpback whale, and other cetaceans including dolphins. With all these species being subject to recovery plans, the use of baited drumlines in WA waters could inhibit recovery of some of these species.
HSI has repeatedly called for urgent further research to better understand the full range of factors at play and the circumstances around recent tragic shark incidents to provide better information for West Australians and all other users of the ocean environment on how to reduce the risk of interactions even further. Simply killing large sharks will do nothing to reduce the already very low risk of shark incidents.
Great white sharks have been protected in Australia since 1999 as a result of an HSI nomination, following concerns of their decline. Since that time there is no evidence to suggest that great white sharks have experienced a surge in numbers.
HSI is currently considering all available legal options to prevent the implementation of the WA shark policy.
 McPhee, D.P. (2012) Likely Effectiveness of Netting or Other Capture Programs as a Shark Hazard Mitigation Strategy under Western Australian Conditions