Western Australia’s Environmental Protection Authority has recommended that the state’s controversial shark culling program be put to an end, in light of uncertainty about its potential effects on the local great white shark population.
The controversial plan involved installing a baited drumline, consisting of more than 70 hooks, 1 km off popular beaches in Perth and the south-west part of the state. According to Western Australia’s own environmental assessment, as many as 25 great white sharks, a protected species, were expected to be snared in the cull. A three-month trial program took place earlier this year, according to The Guardian, in which 172 sharks were caught between January and April.
— SBS News (@SBSNews) July 4, 2014
On Thursday, the EPA recommended against a proposal that would have extended the cull for three years. Chairman Paul Vogel cited uncertainties about the south-western white shark population, as well as commercial fishing operations. He stressed, however that the recommendation was made strictly from an environmental standpoint, and conceded that WA environment minister Albert Jacobs may take other factors into consideration when issuing a final decision.
The shark cull program has been the subject of unprecedented public interest. As Sky News Australia relates, the EPA received 6751 public submissions during the process, as well as two petitions with a total of about 25,000 signatures.
If approved by state and federal authorities, the cull lines would be set between November and April, in an effort to target not only white sharks, but also tiger and bull sharks over three meters in length. State government projections estimated that as many as 900 tiger sharks could be snared in the lines, along with 25 white sharks and just a few bull sharks.
— Jane Hammond (@hearyanow) September 10, 2014
The recommendation comes just days after a man was struck and killed by a great white shark along the Eastern coast of Australia. As the Inquisitr reported, 50-year-old Paul Wilcox was bitten in the leg, suffering fatal blood loss before he was brought to shore.
WA premier Colin Barnett said it was unlikely that the government would appeal the decision. While he acknowledged that beaches in Perth were safe, he expressed concerns about those in the south-west.
The program has been the subject of international condemnation. Actor Ricky Gervais, billionaire businessman Richard Branson, and scientist Jane Goodall have all vocally opposed the shark cull.
[Image via The Telegraph]