Western Australia’s Premier has announced that any great white sharks seen near beachgoers will be killed, in order to protect humans from attacks.
The announcement comes after a record number of attacks occurred this year, retracting its earlier stand about the matter, reports NBC News. Premier Colin Barnett stated:
“We will always put the lives and safety of beachgoers ahead of the shark. This is, after all, a fish — let’s keep it in perspective.”
Previously, sharks were only allowed to be hunted if there was already an attack on a swimmer. Even after a fatal attack in March, Barnett still ruled out changing the strategy, saying that “the ocean is the domain of the shark and we go there with a risk always.
The state of Western Australia has seen five deaths this year already, out of a total of just 12 recorded deaths in the last 100 years. The new strategy will also include more watercraft and helicopter patrols as well. Despite the deaths, it was not welcomed by everyone.
The Telegraph notes that Barnett also stated:
“If there are swimmers in the area, and it’s judged that a shark poses a threat to swimmers, that shark will be tracked, it will be caught and it will be destroyed.”
Despite the unexplainable increase in fatal shark attacks, environmental groups have lashed out at the descriptions calling sharks “fish,” and also said that creatures should be treated as “innocent until proven guilty.” Many critics of the announcement stated that, instead of killing them, the best way to avoid a shark attack is to not swim in the shark’s habitat.
Western Australia’s Conservation Council spokesman, Tim Nicol, stated that the move to pre-emptively kill sharks is a knee-jerk reaction that will not protect swimmers. Nicol stated:
“We are … concerned that this policy perpetuates the fear that all large sharks are potential killers, when in fact we do not know this.”
The government ruled out protecting beaches with shark nets, because they damage other marine life, though they could use baited drum lines to help catch predators that pose a threat to beachgoers. Barnett stated:
“These new measures will not only help us to understand the behaviour of sharks but also offer beachgoers greater protection and confidence as we head into summer.”