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26 June 2015 - Beyond coincidence, another shark attack following live trade vessel departure      

Beyond coincidence, another shark attack following live trade vessel departure

26th June 2015                                                                                                                    

Humane Society International (HSI) has today expressed concern regarding the connection between the export of livestock from Australian shipping ports and reported shark attacks. Following the shark incident Wednesday morning, HSI were alerted that the Al Shuwaikh, a livestock vessel travelling to the Middle East, left the port of Portland, Victoria on the 18th June. On the 22nd of June it passed by the south of WA and the town of Denmark where the attack took place the morning of Wednesday the 24th of June.

Every year, thousands of dead animals are thrown overboard as livestock ships depart Australian ports for the Middle East, either whole or minced, without care or consideration for the consequences of these actions. HSI has been informed that on occasions sheep start dying from Salmonella/Inanition Complex within 24 hours of the loading process, so it is highly likely, and legal, that animals are thrown overboard just outside the 12nm limit of Australian coastline.  

The disposal of animal remains in this way is already believed to attract large sharks over a wide distance and discarding sheep overboard has created problems in other countries. Great white sharks have the ability to travel hundreds of kilometres each day and it has been reported that the Maldives and Egypt have had to clean up dead sheep carcasses that were washed ashore after ships carrying Australian livestock have passed through. In the Red Sea, connections were made between dead sheep thrown overboard and incidence of shark attacks.

The Al Shuwaikh can be linked to 6 other shark fatalities dating back to 2011, and Australian veterinarians who are familiar with the live trade industry have stated that it is highly possible sharks can identify individual livestock vessels and whether they are carrying livestock or not. The Al Shuwaik has also been implicated in the deaths of more than 3 percent of its livestock, a figure which is in excess of legislative requirements.  These facts seem more than coincidence and HSI find it improbable that the latest shark attacks in Australia are unrelated to passing livestock vessels. 

HSI is urging the Western Australian and Federal Governments to examine this possible link between shark attacks and live export vessels. The live export industry must cease the dumping of livestock carcasses overboard from vessels or alternatively WA beaches should be closed to the public when live trade boats have been in the vicinity as swimmers should not be collateral damage for this industry.

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