Science, not shark ‘bite-offs’ should guide fishery decisions

Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren MLC says suggestions that the number of shark ‘bite-offs’ should be used as an evidential basis for an expansion of WA’s commercial shark fishery are simplistic and alarming. 

“Shark stock assessment is complicated; there are dozens of shark species in WA waters and many of these sharks are frequently misidentified by non-experts,” Ms MacLaren said. 

“Furthermore, the number of sharks biting off fish from anglers’ lines in certain fishing spots is not itself evidence of a rise in shark numbers – it could reflect changes in shark behaviour, food availability and ocean conditions, as well as more charter operators and anglers regularly frequenting those locations and ‘burley-ing up’. 

“I encourage the Government to rely on scientific shark stock assessments, not anecdotal experiences being highlighted by vested interests, to guide its policy on sharks in WA. 

“Past overfishing by commercial shark fishers in WA was a disaster for that industry when it forced major change and cutbacks; it is not in anyone’s interests, be it the commercial fishers or the marine environment, to risk going back there again.”