The Western Australia government has proposed a new shark cull in response to fishers concerns about their loss of catches to sharks. This new proposal would include allowing commercial shark fishing within the waters around Ningaloo Reef, the UNESCO-listed Shark Bay World Heritage Area and off the coast of Kimberley.
Fishers in Western Australia have raised concerns that their catches are being taken by sharks. Otherwise known as ‘depredation’, this loss of catches is considered a significant issue by both commercial and recreational fishers in the state. It is being used as evidence to suggest sharks numbers are increasing in Western Australia, and as part of the call to reduce their numbers to solve the depredation issue.
Marine conservation organisations have been quick to speak up about the proposal and ask for it to be rejected. Sea Shepherd’s Managing Director Jeff Hansen has commented on the shark cull proposal, highlighting that Western Australia is a world leader in depredation research and there is no scientific evidence to suggest reducing shark numbers would reduce depredation. There is also no evidence to suggest that shark numbers are booming in Western Australia.
“Looking up the definition of a cull: ‘reduce the population of (a wild animal) by selective slaughter’, it is hard not to come to the conclusion that this is a proposed shark cull by the WA Government.” – Jeff Hansen, Sea Shepherd Australia’s Managing Director.
Sharks are vital for healthy oceans and Western Australia is already known for being overfished during the early 2000s. Removing these predators could prevent the recovery of overfished sharks in the state and contribute to the collapse of Western Australia’s ocean ecosystems.
“Increasing the commercial harvest of species such as the dusky whaler, sandbar shark, and endangered scalloped hammerhead will compromise any recovery from the overfishing in the region that occurred in the early 2000’s” – Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) and Humane Society International (HSI).
Instead of going ahead with a shark cull, marine conservation organisations are asking the government to look into alternative solutions to shark depredation. By using an evidence-based approach to reduce depredation, they hope the government can find a solution that not only protects the shark populations but also improves the sustainability of Western Australia’s fisheries and supports the state’s fishing communities.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society and Humane Society International have launched a Stop the WA Shark Cull campaign. It takes just a few moments to sign their online letter to the Western Australia fisheries minister rejecting the cull.
Since the start of these campaigns, the Western Australia state election has occurred and been won by Labor. Premier Mark McGowan has reshuffled his cabinet and Minister Tinley, who was considered to be supportive of the proposal to reduce shark population, is no longer Fisheries Minister.
Envoy Films are calling on members of the public to sign their No Way WA! petition to send a message to the new Minister, Don Punch, that the shark cull should not go ahead.