‘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.
The question of 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 fishermen one kilometre off Perth and South-West beaches from Friday.
Protest organiser and dive instructor Natalie Wenk said unanswered questions included how removing apex predators would affect the marine ecology and what else would be killed by the hooks. Some 60 per cent of the sharks caught in Queensland’s protection program were under three metres.
West Australians for Shark Conservation convenor Ross Weir asked people to anchor 60m from the lines of hooks and take photographs to ‘show the world’ any bycatch.
Asked if the policy could be reversed, the legal basis for killing protected sharks and the winners of the baiting contracts, a Department of Premier and Cabinet spokesman said protection of beachgoers had motivated the policy, which was the result of consultation with Fisheries, Department of Transport, the Federal Government and more than 40 shark experts from universities.
‘Logistically, bringing large sharks to the shore is a difficult exercise, however some shark carcasses will be offered to researchers for research purposes, and discussions will also take place regarding the possibility of biopsies that can then be provided to researchers,’ the spokesman said.
He said tenders for the hook-and-line contracts were considered by the Government on Monday and the lines would be placed offshore ‘as soon as possible’ until April 30.