Decision not to review WA's shark policy neglects our great whites
Humane Society International (HSI) Campaign Director Michael Kennedy said today that “HSI is disappointed at the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) decision not to review Western Australia’s policy of using drumlines to catch sharks posing a “serious threat” to beach-goers and calls on the Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt to revoke the exemption granted to Western Australia allowing great white sharks to be killed under the policy.”
Under the policy, fisheries officers have an exemption to kill great white sharks where there is a ‘high hazard’ shark incident. In 2014, the definition of a ‘high hazard’ shark incident was watered down by the WA Government from ‘imminent threat’ to “serious threat.’ The WA Government did not refer the policy to the EPA for assessment after the change and it was referred by WA Greens MP Lynn MacLaren.
Mr Kennedy said “The EPA has stated that it will not review the policy because it is unlikely to have a significant effect on the environment, however any policy which allows threatened great white sharks to be killed poses a threat to the longevity of that species. Great white sharks are listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999* (EPBC Act) and are on the IUCN Red List of threatened species and require protection, not drumlines.”
In 2014, Minister Hunt issued an exemption to WA allowing the state to catch and kill great white sharks which are protected under the federal EPBC Act. This exemption is still in place, potentially allowing great white sharks to be taken in larger numbers now the policy has been broadened to capture sharks that constitute a “serious threat.”
Mr Kennedy continued “While the WA Government fiddles with the definitions of the policy to allow more sharks to be taken, the Federal Minister must revoke the exemption granted to Western Australia to protect this iconic Australian species.”
*HSI was responsible for the first legal protection gained for the great white shark under the Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act, 1992 (and consequently the Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999), the New South Wales Fisheries Management Act, 1994 and the Victorian Fauna and Flora Guarantee Act, 1988. HSI also played a key NGO role in achieving the first listings of the great white shark under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and the Convention on the Conservation Migratory Species of Wild Animals.