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Western Australia’s New Drastic Shark Control Measures – What’s the Logic?

What is your opinion? Should sharks be killed if they are impeding into popular public beach areas, therefore negatively influencing the tourist population?

That is a subject that was decided upon by the state government of Western Australia in mid-December. In a radical means of attempting to diminish negative shark activity, The Western Australian Fisheries Department has instigated a “mitigation strategy” that is hoping to diminish the likelihood of a shark attack in public swimming areas. According to the new law any shark that is three meters or more in length that is seen within two specific swimming areas will be killed.

A law that is being considered in retaliation of over six killings in the last two years in Western Australia, the foundation of the plan is based on a belief that it will lower the amount of deaths occurring due to shark attack, thus positively influencing the tourist industry. The Western Australia Fisheries Minister is reported as stating that it is a strategy that will be targeted and specific to the shark which did the attack and therefore presents a threat to the public. Many small business owners as well as tourism operators are of the same belief and are applauding the measure.

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This feeling of approval is not shared by everyone though. Both locals and worldwide nature lovers are speaking in behalf of the sharks. One group in particular that has firsthand experience with the possibility of a shark attack is the locally based clubs that use the water for their recreation. Scuba diving, snorkeling, deep water swimming and surfing organizations have all come forward to state that the sharks should be left alone, and that swimming with sharks is an inherent risk that comes with sea activities.

The plan is focusing on three main types of sharks: the tiger shark, great white shark and the bull shark. Both the tiger and the bull shark are considered to be on the near-threatened red list according to the IUCN. The great white shark is deemed nearly extinct. Especially for the great white, this is a severe issue that could render them gone forever because of their slow development into sexual maturity. Not to mention, if the plan does go through it will go back on prior written law, something that has yet to happen in Western Australian legislature.

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It is believed by many in the conservatory groups that such a law will have ramifications that affect the entire world population of sharks. This is not a local issue, but instead a global one. Why? Oceanic experts agree that sharks act as a high level predator that does a vital action within the balance of the marine food chain. Taking away three major species of shark could create a massive effect on the health of the oceans worldwide.

What is your opinion? Do you believe that the Western Australian government is doing a service or disservice by implementing such a plan? Will this help the tourism industry? Is it ok to do at the expense of the shark population? Is it really true that killing sharks that hang out in popular swimming areas reduces shark attacks?

We would love to hear your thoughts.