Fighting the Shark Cull

Greens party hopes to amend controversial policy in West Oz

| posted on April 07, 2014
Protesters in Australia gather to show their disapproval of WA's shark culling policy.

Protesters in Australia gather to show their disapproval of WA’s shark culling policy.

The Greens, an Australian political party, have put forth legislation seeking to end the controversial shark-killing policy in Western Australia that was enacted in December of 2013. The policy was introduced after a series of attacks killed seven people in W.A. over the past three years.

Under the shark cull, the Australian government has paid local fisherman to set drum lines to hook tiger sharks, great whites, and bull sharks. Once caught, sharks more than three meters long are shot to death and their bodies are dumped farther out to sea. As of a March 16 count, more than 110 sharks have been caught under the program, with tigers sharks accounting for the vast majority. Sharks under three meters long are released.

Critics argue that in addition to being brutal, the baited drum lines are counterproductive because they actually draw sharks closer to the shore. There have been a number of public protests and the policy has stirred both celebrities, like Richard Branson and Ricky Gervais, as well as surfers like Dave Rastovich, to publicly condemn it. The environmental organization Sea Shepherd issued a challenge to the shark culling policy and called for judicial review, but it was denied by the Australian Supreme Court.

Under the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, great white sharks are actually a protected species. But citing a provision allowing the government to make rare exceptions to the act for national security and emergencies, Greg Hunt, the country’s environmental minister, was able to sign an exemption late last year, making the cull lawful.

“Today in the Senate, my colleague, Senator Rachel Siewert, has introduced a bill that, if passed, would cancel out the Federal Minister’s exemption from federal laws protecting the marine environment and in particular species on the threatened and endangered lists,” said Lyn MacLaren, Greens Legislative Council member. “The Greens policy calls for respect for the marine ecosystem and greater understanding rather than this indiscriminate culling approach to respond to WA’s shark hazard. It is evident from the popularity of the No Shark Cull campaign that a great many Western Australians agree.”

According to the Greens, the bill would amend the act retrospectively and force the government to remove the drum lines. Before introducing their legislation, the Greens garnered more than 88,000 signatures on a petition to end the program. However, the shark cull policy is set to expire by the end of April, making it unlikely that it will pass in time to have much of an effect. But according to Senator Christine Milne of the Greens, if the legislation does pass, it will prohibit the government from ever enacting any exceptions citing the national security provision again.

“This bill will prevent the federal environment minister from granting any future exemptions to the act for the purposes of using drum lines to catch sharks,” Senator Milne told the website “Exempting the shark cull sets a very dangerous precedent. Past exemptions have only been granted for the purposes of defense, security or national emergencies, like bushfires or floods, but not for the active culling or killing of a vulnerable species.”

  • Steve

    Greenies are funny people. In my local council there is a steep mountain that is constantly loosing rocks/gravel to the local river. The greenies protested and got council to stop taking gravel from the river for use on roads. A victory for the greens. The river is now becoming filled with rock and loosing it’s volume. This provides less habitat for fish. And they have to go blow up a mountain to get the gravel now. Don’t know which point in the process they stop paying attention to the end results but ignorance is bliss.

  • Chester

    No problem killing a 500 lb. Tuna to douse in teriyaki and eat with sticks but lose your sh*t over a few dead white sharks. Do you think the Mexican government obeys these laws? How bout in Africa? What do you think a fish taco in a Tijuana is? White shark baby. Grab some tortillas and guac. Delicious. And we can surf with out our legs getting bit off. Awesome. Two birds stoned at once.

    • ER

      Applause… you are the biggest kook on the Internet!

  • Kyle Jeffery

    There are more Kangaroos than people here mate, I shit you not. You can buy it at your local supermarket to eat. Not such a big deal.

  • Rupert

    There’s nothing wrong with eating kangaroo. I’ve eaten kangaroo.
    It’s actually a whole lot better for you and the environment than cows or sheep.

  • Shane Slits

    Head shooting a kangaroo then using it for meat and pelt and hooking a shark hacking its fins off and throwing it back in the ocean alive is somehow the same to you?

  • Larry

    Who said there was no problem killing a Tuna. Most of the people against the shark cull will be the same people who fight for sustainable fishing quotas and methods of catching Tuna which don’t endanger other marine life.

  • Daniel Joseph

    How is it that WA cops all the abuse on this, when NSW and Queensland have been actively using drum lines for decades and no one says a word?

    Instead of protesting and signing pointless petitions why don’t the environmentalists actually put these thousands of man hours towards doing something. Anything! Patrolling our beaches maybe? Pooling their resources and doing some research into why shark attacks have spiked in this area of the world?
    The Greens are the most counterproductive political group ever established. A bunch of ‘no’ men. It’s embarrassing.
    As much as the Greens protest, the majority still supports doing something about the sharks rather than nothing, as the Greens would have us believe is the best way forward.

    The Western Australian government is providing millions and millions of dollars for research. They are doing everything in their power to keep the population safe and the drum lines is a last resort. No one wants to kill animals, but the majority doesn’t want to see more humans die. Based on evidence where drum lines have been used, for example in Queensland (where they have been using them for decades), a reduction in attacks was recorded. Hence the policy was implemented – and only as a last resort –

    And the recurring argument about how the ocean is the sharks domain and we enter at our own risk is completely flawed. Before adding this gem to the comment feed have a good hard think about how ridiculously naive you sound.