Shark Culling In Western Australia Begins Amid Protests

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A Tiger Shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) was the first shark killed by western Australia's controversial shark culling program. Via Albert Kok/Wikipedia
John Virata

As if sharks around the world aren’t suffering enough, Western Australia has gone ahead with its shark culling efforts, with a government contracted fisherman killing the first shark, a tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier), with three bullets to the head. He then dumped the carcass at sea. The cull will run from January to April of this year and is limited to sharks that are 9.8 feet or larger.

“Killing sharks for merely acting as nature and millions of years of evolution have designed them is an abomination and a crime against nature, the planet and the entire universe. Wake up and wise up, Australia,” said Mike Hope, an IT professional and surfer from Newport Beach, Calif.

The endangered great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), the bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas), and the tiger shark are the intended targets of the cull, presumably in an effort to reduce the number of “attacks” on surfers, divers and swimmers in the Land Down Under. The culling effort involves attaching baited lines to drums that are anchored to the bottom of the ocean to prevent the sharks from swimming away. The fishing lines are anchored a kilometer off shore in areas that the government considers heavily trafficked locations.

The culling effort is controversial, with activists threatening to sabotage the baited lines and some even threatening fishermen who sought permits to cull the animals.

“To think that we’re wasting this opportunity to tag and to find out more about these creatures, that we’re just going to slaughter them and dump them — it’s just such a waste of life,” Rae Threnoworth, member of marine conservation group Sea Shepherd, told Australia’s Ten Network television.

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Sharks remain one of the most misunderstood fish in the ocean, with many folks still holding the belief that they are man eaters and man is on the menu. As animals, they have suffered greatly and are in decline in many areas of the world’s oceans. The great white shark is a protected species all over the world but the government of Australia has given officials in western Australia the green light to cull them, without fully understanding their importance in the “circle of life.” In China, despite public efforts, shark fin soup remains popular in spite of studies saying that the fins used in the soup is rife with high levels of a cyanobacterial neurotoxin called BMAA.

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Fish · Lifestyle