Massive Bull Shark Caught Off NSW Beach Puts Fisherman On The Defensive

An Australian fisherman is defending his catch of a three-meter-long bull shark off a popular swimming beach, as observers voice their frustrations over photos of the predator on social media.

Joel Merchant, 33, caught the shark while fishing with his girlfriend, Danielle Simpson, according to the Daily Mail. He hooked the large bull shark on a fixed line anchored 2 kilometers off Duranbah, in northern NSW, and asserted that the shark wasn't difficult to land, as he'd caught larger ones in the past.

"It was pretty easy to pull on that one, it just behaved itself," he recalled. "I have no idea how many more I've caught but the biggest one a long time ago was around about four meters."

The angler, who carries a shark license according to the ABC, brought the bull shark into his boat after just a 10-minute-fight. After posting pictures of the shark on social media, the couple faced a backlash from angry commenters who asserted that they were "murderers" and questioned their need to kill the fish. According to Merchant, he believes those people are misinformed.

"People are saying 'You're killing wonderful creatures,' 'The ocean's not yours,' 'It's one step away from clubbing puppies,'" he noted. "People are just misinformed and they don't understand just what's out there, they only say what's said in the media by so-called experts."

Merchant further asserted that fishing in NSW is highly regulated, with a 500kg weekly limit that would only allow him to catch a few sharks. He pointed out that bull sharks aren't considered a threatened species in Australia, a fact confirmed by Alexia Wellbelove, senior program manager at the Humane Society International.

"To our mind we know there's lots of sharks out there and it's great to see they're being caught," She said. "But if a shark is accidentally caught then let's release it and leave it to carry on with its life."

Wellbelove added that just because bull sharks aren't threatened, however, doesn't mean that they shouldn't be protected.

"It's our preference that sharks like that are kept alive rather than being caught and eaten as food. There are plenty of other fish in the sea that are better as food sources."

Earlier this week, another angler made headlines when he reeled in a ten-foot-long bull shark from Sydney harbor. As the Inquisitr previously reported, he fought the bull shark for over two hours before he was able to bring it to land.

[Image: Danielle Simpson via the Daily Mail]