ENVIRONMENT MINISTER SHOULD BE CONGRATULATING NOT CRITICISING WA GOVERNMENT
4th January 2018
Humane Society International commends the Western Australian government on its strong resolve to continue with its non-lethal shark control policies in light of further criticism from the Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg.
“To our knowledge, Minister Frydenberg is the first Environment Minister to actively and publicly call for the culling of a threatened species. Usually it’s the Environment Minister’s job to defend threatened species from those that wish them harm. He is just playing politics—it’s as transparent as it is cynical,” said Jessica Morris, Marine Scientist at Humane Society International.
“We have at our fingertips new, effective and non-lethal technology that can protect swimmers and not impact our marine life like nets and drumlines. Studies show killing sharks does not make our beaches safer, and the use of nets and drumlines can actually have the opposite effect on people’s safety.”
The population study of white sharks in Australia released in December shows there is between 750 and 2000 adult white sharks off the Western Australian coast, and numbers of adults off the east Australian coast are between 430 – 1030; such a population size is significantly low for a top predator. And, while Minister Frydenberg would have people believe they are all lurking right off our surf clubs, white sharks are actually a highly migratory species which travel thousands of kilometres.
The latest figures do not specify the population trend of the species, which is crucial in determining whether white sharks are still being affected by population loss. It will take at least 5-10 years before we can determine how white sharks are being impacted by overfishing, habitat degradation and shark control programs before any conclusion can be reached about a delisting.
“Minister Frydenberg suggests a culling program should be implemented immediately in Western Australia which he is basing purely on political leanings and not the science. The aim of listing threatened species is not to one day reinstate outdated and ineffective culling techniques and trophy fishing. Sharks are incredibly important for healthy ecosystems, and the Minister is extraordinarily uninformed about the nature and necessity of these species,” said Ms Morris.
“Our Environment Minister should stop being dictated to by fear, falsehoods and media beat-ups when it comes to sharks—we lose hundreds more lives from drownings each and every year. We need to keep this in perspective and support the sensible approach of the Western Australian government.”
The white shark is listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 as vulnerable to extinction. Humane Society International nominated this species for inclusion under the Act in 1997.