Observing the shark cull in action

Observers Neil Henderson, Sian Coggin and Andrew Corbe off the coast near Fremantle.
Observers Neil Henderson, Sian Coggin and Andrew Corbe off the coast near Fremantle.

The Marmion resident and former oil and gas manager said it would depend on techniques used as part of the shark cull.

‘We’d have to look at it first and whether they 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,’ he 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 trial since January.

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

He has also seen sharks disgorge their stomachs in failed attempts to escape and released sharks swimming while bleeding from their gills.

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 work in conjunction with Cottesloe-based activist group Sea Shepherd, but all acknowledge that Fisheries officers have an unpopular task checking about 30 hooks between Port and Mullaloo beaches up to six times each day. They oppose what they call the cull’s cruelty and waste, question the use of taxpayers’ money to catch relatively harmless tiger sharks and ask why no research is being conducted with the carcasses, which are dumped up to 8km offshore.

Mr Corbe said swimmers’ fears could be stopped with the eco-shark barrier trialled in Coogee being used at all popular beaches, and diving with sharks eco-tourism adding to State coffers.