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6 January 2014 - Time for the Commonwealth to step in on WA shark policy      

Time for the Commonwealth to step in on WA shark policy

6 January 2014

Humane Society International (HSI) today reiterated its call to the Federal Environment Minister to step into the increasingly public debate on the Western Australian Government’s proposal to implement its new shark policy later this week.

In December, HSI’s lawyers wrote to the Federal Environment Minister following the announcement of WA’s shark policy on 10th December 2013.  This was on the basis of our belief that the proposed WA policy will have a significant impact on the white shark, which is listed under federal environment laws as both a vulnerable species and a migratory species.  HSI also believes that the policy will impact on a number of other listed threatened species such as the harmless grey nurse shark which could be caught and killed as bycatch.

We are now in the eleventh hour for WA’s white sharks,” said Alexia Wellbelove, Senior Program Manager of Humane Society International.  “Despite the opposition of thousands of people in WA and around the country who took the time this past weekend to protest against this policy, and the opposition of more than 100 shark scientists, the Western Australian Government is pressing on regardless with its new shark killing policy which will come into effect this week.”

HSI is reiterating its call for the Federal Environment Minister to urgently intervene in the WA proposals to set baited drum lines and establish zones where large sharks will be killed.  This not only goes against Government policy to recover threatened species such as the white shark, but also, most importantly, will not be effective in providing greater protection from the low risk of shark bites to ocean users,” continued Ms Wellbelove.

HSI agrees that the safety of ocean users is critical, but we do not consider that setting drum lines one kilometre from the shore will increase safety, in fact, it could create quite the opposite scenario with fish and large sharks being drawn to these areas.  We therefore call on the WA Government to abandon their policy and instead put more effort into existing research activities.  This is the only way to help us better understand the white shark and its movements, which in turn will generate data that can be used to help protect ocean users,” concluded Ms Wellbelove.

HSI also wrote to WA Premier Colin Barnett in December, advising him of our position and urging him to abandon the new shark policy.  In the meantime we will continue to investigate all legal options available to challenge the WA policy.

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. 


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