Shepherd’s shock at shark plan

Sea Shepherd’s Megan Louth, Jeff Hansen and Lisa Rossi are opposed to drum baiting for great white sharks.
Sea Shepherd’s Megan Louth, Jeff Hansen and Lisa Rossi are opposed to drum baiting for great white sharks.

‘We oppose this on many levels, including the great white being red-listed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union of Conservation of Nature and being on Appendix Two of the CITES (animal trade) Convention that says while the shark may not currently be threatened by extinction, it may unless its trade is restricted,’ Sea Shepherd Australia managing director Jeff Hansen said.

After six fatal shark attacks in WA in three years, the Government said professional fishers would bait about 1km offshore in two zones covering Mindarie to Warnbro, and Bunbury to Prevelly until April.

Mr Hansen said while Sea Shepherd supported shark attack victims’ families, baiting put seals, dolphins, big fish and non-threatening sharks at risk and it would lobby the Government to stop the policy. He said more great white research and public education about its risk was needed to recognise that the species, with greater whale migrations and increasing seal populations, was part of life in WA.

‘We have signs in the Northern Territory for crocodiles and jellyfish, and they kill 45 people worldwide each year, so why not have them for sharks here, or tagged sharks setting off alarms near beaches?’ Mr Hansen said.

Announcing the policy, former fisheries minister Troy Buswell said the baiting was a ‘targeted, localised hazard mitigation strategy’ for ‘removing, or attempting to remove’ the greatest shark threat.

‘Sharks kill five people a year worldwide, we kill 100 million sharks a year. Who is the predator?’ Mr Hansen said.

Asked what beaches would be baited, the legality of killing protected great whites, if bycatch would be recorded and if baiters’ contracts would be tendered, Fisheries Minister Ken Baston said putting the policy into operation had started, including co-operation with Surf Life Saving WA.

Opinion, Page 8