More than 170 sharks have been caught off the coast of Australia stemming from a controversial policy seeking to reduce the threat of shark attacks on humans. According to reports, 50 were shot on site, 20 died while caught in hooks, and 90 were tagged and released.
Seven people have been killed over the last three years due to shark attacks in Australia. Blame has been placed squarely on the legendary great white shark for the recent spike in human fatalities.
While the shark hunting initiative has seen quantitative results, none of the sharks caught thus far have been the correct species – great whites.
Western Australia fisheries minister Ken Baston had nothing but praise for the controversial policy: “While, of course, we will never know if any of the sharks caught would have harmed a person, this government will always place greatest value on human life.” In an interview on television, Baston said of the negative reaction to the shark-kill program, “I’m very surprised how many people are in love with sharks, quite frankly. I mean, at the end of the day, I value a human life far greater than a shark.”
The Labor opposition fisheries spokesman had a far different take on the matter, “The policy is very unpopular, it has hardly caught any of the sharks it was destined to catch and the Government hasn’t produced any scientific evidence to say the policy is working.” He continued, “What people want is scientific research to show why the government thinks this policy makes our beaches safer.”
Shark conservationist Madison Stewart said, “People have a right to know what’s going on and they definitely need to realise that we can’t keep trusting governments to do the right thing.”
Some argue the policy will have the opposite of its intended effect: making swimmers less safe. The bait to secure the sharks is being placed in areas that may encourage the sharks to swim into shallow waters near populated areas.
A group of celebrities, TV personalities, and Olympic athletes has teamed to form an anti shark-kill campaign on twitter with the hashtag #nosharkcull. The group includes Hollywood star Ricky Gervais and English Olympians Tom Daley (diver) and Rebecca Adlington (swimmer).