After six fatal shark attacks since 2011, officials in Western Australia are biting back.
(Photo: Stephen Frink/Getty Images)
December 10, 2013 By Salvatore Cardoni
Sal holds a Political Science degree from the George Washington University. He’s written about all things environment since 2007.
In a scenario that partially mimics the plot of Steven Spielberg’s 1975 summer blockbuster Jaws, officials in Western Australia today announced a controversial plan to use professional hunters to kill any shark longer than 10 feet that swims too close to popular beaches.
The plan is a direct response to six fatal shark attacks—including one just last month—that occurred off the country’s southern and western coasts in the last two years.
“Baited hooks will also be placed along the coast to catch sharks, with a larger strike team ready to scramble into action in the event of an attack,” reports The Australian.
Calling it a “culling” that will not necessarily reduce the likelihood of attacks on surfers and swimmers, marine mammal conservationists vehemently oppose the move.
“This new cull policy amounts to indiscriminate fishing and will not only cull potentially risky sharks, but we can expect to see dolphins, turtles, seals, nurse sharks, and a range of other marine life killed off our beaches,” said conservationist Piers Verstegen.
The government disagrees, insisting that public safety must come first.
“It is not a fear-driven hunt; it is a targeted, localized shark mitigation strategy,” said local official Troy Buswell.
The announcement comes roughly one week after a video was posted to YouTube of three Western Australian fishermen frantically working to save an 800-pound, 12-foot-long tiger shark they had accidentally caught and reeled in to shore.
As the five-minute video begins, a group of onlookers is seen surrounding the shark as it writhes on a beach. From there, the situation worsens quickly, so much so that one brave fisherman throws caution to the wind and climbs atop the predator (think man straddling a horse). It is a desperate attempt to gain leverage to remove the hook from the predator’s jaws—and it mercifully works. Soon after, the shark rights itself and swims into the surf as gawking beachgoers cheer.
Given today’s news, though, perhaps the shark would have been better off hanging out on the beach a bit longer.
There You´ll find that Petition, too.