WHITE SHARK FIGURES TAKE A BITE OUT OF CALLS FOR CULLS
February 8, 2018
Today’s release of long anticipated CSIRO data on great white shark populations should silence calls for culls. The population numbers found in the study rebut the anecdotal evidence of great white abundance that has been used in place of science to call for the delisting of this threatened species.
The CSIRO study has estimated adult white shark numbers at 750 in eastern Australasia and 1460 in western Australasia. Contrary to what the media would like you to think, these numbers are not concentrated on our coastline. They are a highly migratory ocean going species and these numbers are spread from Bass Strait out to New Zealand and in the west all the way up to Ningaloo and out into the Indian Ocean.
“The estimated great white shark numbers do not give any ground to change the threatened species classification for the species. The great white is protected as a species Vulnerable to Extinction under federal and state legislation,” said Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns for Humane Society International in Australia.
A nomination from Humane Society International secured the Vulnerable to Extinction listing for the great white shark in 1997. The CSIRO says the population since then has been flat with no evidence of an increase.
“At this stage CSIRO has taken a snapshot of the population today and will be unable to determine the ongoing population trend for the species without further study. It will take at least 5-10 years before we can determine the population trajectory for great white sharks which are impacted by bycatch in fisheries and shark culling programs in NSW and Queensland.”
Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg has suggested a culling program be implemented in Western Australia. This data should put a stop to those suggestions.
“Calls for culling in Western Australia are irresponsible. They ignore the fact that there are non-lethal strategies to protect swimmers and surfers and that sharks are essential for healthy marine ecosystems,” said Ms Beynon. “Studies show killing sharks does not make our beaches safer”.
“The aim of listing threatened species is not to restore numbers so that one day outdated and ineffective culling techniques and trophy fishing can be reinstated,” said Ms Beynon.
“Humane Society International hopes these figures will ground the public debate over sharks in science rather than falsehoods and media beat-ups. All Australian governments need to support a sensible and precautionary approach to Australia’s shark populations,” concluded Ms Beynon.
The Great White Shark is also a globally threatened species protected under both the UN Convention for Trade in Endangered Species and the UN Convention for Migratory Species. The Howard Government nominated the species for these protections.