Friday, September 12, 2014

With the Cull Now Killed, Western Australia Looks to Expand the Use of Swim Enclosures

This week the Australian Environmental Protection Authority effectively shut down the Western Australian government's controversial catch-and-kill shark policy. WA had been seeking a three year extension of the program but the EPA declared that not enough was known about the impact of killing great whites on the long term viability of the south-western white shark population.

The cull program was enacted earlier this year following the seventh fatal shark attack over a three year period.  The highly contentious program was met with strong opposition from environmental and conservation groups as well as the general public.  In a poll conducted earlier this year by UMR research, they found that 80% of Australians were opposed to the cull.

During the program's 13-week initial trial from April to July 2014, 170 sharks were caught but none were great whites which had been primarily attributed to the fatal attacks.  And though no great whites were hooked, there were no reported shark bite incidents during the period.

The Premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett, told Perth Now that, “I cannot simply walk away and say ‘that’s the EPA decision’. They only look at the environment, I have to look at environment, plus public safety,"

To protect beachgoers, Mr Barnett will use some of the money that was earmarked for the drumline project to expand the use of swim enclosures but he notes that the enclosures are only practical in areas with calm ocean conditions.