‘It’s just the wrong thing to do, as it’s not just the sharks that will be affected,’ Secret Harbour resident Justin Chard (43) said, when his family gave up their usual Saturday morning at their beach to attend the protest.
How great white sharks could be lawfully killed when they were given protected status nine years ago prompted Darch resident Brandon Shorto (21) to protest, while Nedlands resident Annaleis Martin (27) said the policy was ‘a joke’ with no scientific basis.
‘We don’t believe in culling sharks because we are in their territory,’ Kalamunda resident Georgina Hamer (26) said.
After seven fatal shark attacks in three years in WA, the Government announced in mid-December that lines of large hooks would be placed by professional fishers a kilometre from Perth and South- West beaches from Friday.
Protest organiser and dive instructor Natalie Wenk said unanswered questions included how removing apex predators would affect all the marine ecology and what else would be killed by the hooks, when 60 per cent of the sharks caught in Queensland’s protection program were under 3m.
West Australians for Shark Conservation convenor Ross Weir asked voters to anchor 60m from the lines of hooks and take photographs to ‘show the world’ any bycatch.
Asked if voters’, fishing industry and scientists’ opposition could reverse the policy, what was the legal basis for killing protected great whites and who were the winners of the baiting contracts, a Department of Premier and Cabinet spokesman said protection of beachgoers had driven the policy.
It was a result of consultation with Fisheries, Department of Transport, the Federal Government and more than 40 shark experts from the universities, he said.
‘Logistically bringing large sharks to the shore is a difficult exercise. However some shark carcasses will be offered for researchers for research purposes, and discussions will also take place regarding the possibility of biopsies that can then be provided to researchers.’