The shark debate has erupted again after Federal Environment Minister, Josh Frydenberg, accused the WA State Government of not doing enough to prevent shark attacks.
Mr Frydenberg said WA’s response to the shark threat was “Nothing short of pathetic,”
He commented drum lines should be put in the water to protect its own citizens and restore the WA way of life.
“The McGowan Government should wake up,” he said.
This is not the first time that Frydenberg has made these sorts of comments, with the State Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly remaining firm on the shark debate.
“We should try as best as possible to keep politics out of this, to try base our policy on science and not try and make this a partisan issue.” he said earlier this year.
Mr Kelly, said the criticism was disappointing when the Government was focused on it’s program of subsidising shark deterrents.
He also said drum lines and nets do not work.
Managing director of Sea Shepherd, Jeff Hansen, agrees with Mr Kelly, arguing that drum lines and shark nets are are a false sense of security that wipe out other marine life.
“How does a net that’s 150 metres long, doesn’t go from the top to the bottom, and full of holes, keep you safe?”
“They’re indiscriminate killing devices… The majority of the animals that they trap are whales, dolphins, turtles, dugongs… more than 90% of them are not the target species,” he said.
Mr Hansen explained the benefit of non-lethal alternatives; shark shields, shark spotter programs and ASAP packs in case of an incident.
The State Government are backing these technologies with subsidies, and they are proven technology that can save lives.
Shark Shields are devices that are built into surfboards or strap onto you like a leg rope.
“When you’re out there and the sharks come in, the devices sends a signal out and the sharks (have got sensors on the front of their nose) don’t like that signal, so it deters them and they swim away. They’ve proven that scientifically that works,” he explained.
The reality of the situation is we have a humpback whale population that has come back from the brink of extinction to the biggest of the world, off the West Australian coast, with seal and orca numbers also increasing in population. This attracts the apex predators that are vital to the health of our marine ecosystems.
“If you go out and start killing all the apex predators, like great white sharks, who is going to keep the humpback, seal and orca populations in check?” Mr Hansen asked.
“In 2017 we don’t have to choose between killing sharks or protecting people… We can do both. We can protect our marine life and protect people at the same time, without using lethal measures that do nothing,” he stated.
Mr Hansen’s comments in response to Mr Frydenberg:
“The conservationists want to save human lives. The West Australian State Government wants to save human lives. It’s up to you Minister Frydenberg to stop making this a political issue,”