Over the past year Australia has seen a series of shark attacks, with five deaths attributed to the Great White Shark. On Saturday, the latest victim – 24-year-old surfer Ben Linden – was fatally wounded by a shark, prompting the Western Australian Fisheries Minister, Norman Moore to call for the federal government to lift a ban on fishing for the protected Great White Shark.
The Great White Shark was famously immortalized in the film Jaws as a ferocious man-eater, and during the 70s it saw a decline in population due to an increase in commercial fishing. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classes the shark as ‘vulnerable’ and believes the species should be protected. However Norman Moore disagrees.
He noted that the spate of fatal attacks was “cause for great alarm” and said that he was “open to any suggestions from anybody as to where we go to now, because we seriously have got a problem”. Ben Linden was reportedly killed by a 16ft long Great White, which is now being hunted by the Ministry.
Mr Moore believes that the recent shark attacks were harming Western Australia’s tourism industry and he plans to lobby the government to lift the ban on commercial and recreational fishing of Great Whites. He also quoted ‘unconfirmed figures’ that the species’ numbers have increased during the 90s, but added that the government would not sanction shark hunts or culls. If anyone can explain the difference between a shark hunt and recreational fishing of the species, I’d be very grateful.
The decision has been condemned by environmentalists who have pointed out that the rising number of shark attacks is due to the increasing popularity of water sports in isolated locations, rather than a rise in shark numbers. Generally in Australia, an average of one person a year is killed by sharks, but many believe that hunting them isn’t the answer.
Speaking to The Independent, Janita Enevoldsen of the Wilderness Society said: “We need to really understand them [the sharks], and not resort to the Neanderthal reaction of a hunt and kill.” Her comments were supported by Martin Garwood, a senior aquarist at the Sydney Aquarium, who said that more research was needed to plot the sharks’ migration and feeding habits.
What do you think? Should the Australian government allow for the hunting of Great Whites in order to protect surfers and swimmers? Or should we simply stay out of the water?
Via The Independent