Environment Minister fails evidence test on sharks

State and Federal Greens MPs have blasted the Abbott Government for exempting a proposed cull of sharks in WA waters saying it makes a mockery of environmental laws. “The Minister has basically approved the indiscriminate killing of great white sharks.

If this is the Abbott Government’s benchmark for protection of nationally protected species woe betide Australia,” Greens National Marine Spokesperson, WA Senator Rachel Siewert said.

“The Greens will challenge this decision when Parliament resumes.”

WA Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren said the reasons for the exemption did not stand up and were self-contradicting.

“This is not the standard of argument that is worthy of an Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act exemption,” Ms MacLaren said.

“We reject the scant evidence provided to Mr Hunt by Premier Barnett which made wild, and we believe, erroneous conclusions about the impact of shark incidents on tourism.

“In fact, Tourism Western Australia recently reported that local and interstate tourism in WA increased 10 per cent over 12 months to September 2013 – at a time when there was extensive national and international coverage of shark attacks. Also last year, international tourism increased 2.3 per cent, consistent with the trend of the past four years.

“The exemption also says that there has been a statistically significant increase in fatal great white sharks attacks off WA since 1995.

“There have been supposed ‘clusters’ of fatal shark attacks in WA’s past and yet take a wider timeframe and these anomalies fade out.

“The Minister also justifies not referring his decision for assessment by agreeing with the Premier’s claim that it is important to get the drum lines in the water over summer yet in the same document acknowledges that great white sharks are less often seen in WA between January and April.”

Senator Siewert and Ms MacLaren said the Greens were continuing to work with other groups to explore legal avenues to stop the cull, and are part of a rally to oppose the cull planned at Cottesloe Beach on 1 February.

Download the report on WA tourist numbers in 2013 at: http://www.tourism.wa.gov.au/Publications%20Library/Research/Research%20...