Western Australia’s shark culling policies have been the subject of much debate in past weeks. And now, it seems as though the public cry has been heard. The State Government’s initial plans to use commercial fisherman to bait and destroy sharks has been abandoned.
This is not to say, however, that the policy itself has been abandoned. Government officials have chosen to use the Fisheries Department, instead. After opponents of the shark culling policy (which, despite meeting all criteria for the definition of “cull,” is still not being called a cull by the Australian government) threatened the private fishing outfit that tendered the contract to catch and kill sharks over nine feet in length, the company refused the job.
“We had a successful tenderer,” said Fisheries Mininster Ken Baston to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, “but that tenderer did pull out with the worry of threats to himself and his family.”
While other outfits had applied for the position, they were all refused. Baston did say that he hoped that the use of the Fisheries Department would be short-lived, and that professional fisherman would take over at some point in the near-future.
Public outrage is not the only adversity that WA’s catch and kill policy is facing. Under Commonwealth law, if it is continued longer than its one-summer trial period, it will face closer scrutiny by the federal government. There have also been questions regarding the legalities surrounding the issue. According to the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 and the Fish Resource Management Act 1994, the implementation isn’t legal, and under the Wildlife Act, white sharks are protected species.
“There would have to be a full Federal Environment Act assessment if there was a request to move beyond this one trial period,” said Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt in an interview with ABC.
“What we’re calling for,” said Wilderness Society spokeswoman Jenita Enevoldsen, “is a moratorium on any culling until there’s been a full investigation into the population of great whites and exactly if drum lines do reduce the number of attacks.”
This comes after a new study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature was released stating that a quarter of all sharks, rays, and chimaeras are facing extinction.