South African experience shows folly of WA Government’s proposed shark cull

Media statement, Monday 23 December 2013

Greens South Metro MLC Lynn MacLaren says official figures from Natal, South Africa, show that drum lines will kill many more harmless marine species than dangerous species.

 "The WA Government has justified its unpopular new shark cull policy by citing experiences elsewhere yet an examination of the few places in the world where drum lines have been introduced shows that drum lines kill far more harmless species  than they do tiger and great white sharks,” Ms MacLaren said.

 “With the release today of an open letter from 100-plus shark scientists around the world opposing the WA Government’s new shark killing policy, I challenge the Premier and Fisheries Minister to put forward a single Australian scientist who backs their policy.

 “An examination of the annual reports of the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board in Natal, South Africa, shows that for the past two years, the number of tiger and great white sharks caught in drum lines and nets off Natal has been outnumbered by five times by the capture of smaller sharks, catfish, humpback whales and leatherback and green turtles.

“In most cases, the capture of small, harmless sharks has led to their deaths; the sharks have suffocated because once caught on a drum line hook they cannot move sufficiently to pass water over their gills and receive oxygen.

 “A Bond University study that was commissioned by the WA Government last year on the best shark hazard mitigation study for WA, which clearly recommended against the use of drum lines, noted that the unintended catch of harmless marine species, including dolphins, would be especially high within the first years that drum lines were deployed – in other words, until the local populations of those species had been reduced.

“I suspect that this and the slow, cruel death that drum lines cause are the real reasons that the Premier has hinted that he will not allow the public to see the captures on drum lines if they are deployed.”