Keeping watch on shark cull

Keeping watch on shark cull

That same morning the State Government confirmed the program may run another three years.

OBSERVER launch skipper Andrew Corbe (39) is considering if his boat’s twice-daily offshore trips would continue monitoring any contractor patrolling up to 32 drum lines off Perth beaches for the next three summers.

‘We’d have to look at it first and whether they’d start using Brazil’s techniques of an anchored hook that allow the sharks to swim in circles and stay alive, tagging it while keeping it alive in a tank on their boat and live relocation offshore,’ the Marmion resident and former oil and gas manager said.

Launching from Hillarys Marina daily before dawn, he and his wife have spent about $2500 on fuel taking observers and international media 1km offshore to watch the cull’s trial since it began in January this year.

‘The first day my wife and I went out we saw an undersize tiger shark that had its throat ripped open, and you don’t forget that,’ Mr Corbe said.

He said he swam with a 2.5m shark that took 90 minutes to revive after it was released from a 30cm-long hook.

The skipper also said he had seen sharks disgorge their stomachs in failed attempts to escape and released sharks swimming while bleeding from their gills.

He said Department of Fisheries’ officers gave him a formal warning for being in possession of a totally protected fish when attempts were made to recover a dead 3.2m tiger shark off Scarborough about a fortnight ago.

‘When they talk about ‘released alive’, most of the sharks have massive head wounds, with holes going through the tops of their heads about 20mm-30mm wide,’ Mr Corbe said.

The observers communicate with but are separate to Cottesloe-based activist group Sea Shepherd, but all acknowledge the Fisheries’ officers unpopular task of checking about 30 hooks between Port and Mullaloo beaches up six times each day.

They unitedly oppose ‘the cruelty and the waste’ of shark culling while questioning the morality of using taxpayers’ money to catch ‘relatively harmless tiger sharks’.

Observers also ask why no research is carried out on the carcasses of the slaughtered sharks, which are dumped up to 8km offshore.

Mr Corbe said swimmers’ fears could be allayed by extending the eco-shark barrier ” on trial in Coogee ” to other popular beaches and providing eco-tourism opportunities, such as diving with sharks, to help boost the State’s tourism coffers.