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Scientists emphatically reject WA’s shark cull

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 4 Jul 2014

The Australian Greens today urged Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt to listen to the large group of Australian and international scientists and experts rejecting Colin Barnett's shark cull.

More than 300 leading scientists and experts have signed a Letter of Expert Concern, which has been sent to the WA EPA and Minister Hunt, as part of the assessment process for the proposed three year extension of WA's shark cull.

"The science is in. This is an emphatic rejection of Colin Barnett's flawed and unjustifiable shark cull," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens marine spokesperson said today.

"This letter clearly demonstrates the lack of any scientific basis for this policy, including that the proposal presents no evidence that lives will be saved.

"As Dr. Elliott Norse, Founder and Chief Scientist of the Marine Conservation Institute (USA) asked: 'How can a country be a leader when it comes to saving whales in Antarctica, but kill threatened sharks in Western Australia? It is a step backwards at a time when a growing list of countries is moving to protect larger areas of our oceans, in part to protect these mobile large predators, as has recently occurred in the US with President Obama's announcement of a greatly expanded Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.

"Colin Barnett cannot continue to advocate for this cull to be extended when the clear weight of scientific evidence shows that it is unjustified and has the potential to lead to further environmental harm.

"This submission makes the point that drum lines are indiscriminate, with more than three quarters of last summer's catch being the wrong species or being undersized. It also makes it clear that there is a high risk of mortality for those animals which are caught on drum lines and then released.

"The WA Government is ignoring modern science and proven, non-lethal options for mitigating the risk of shark attacks, including the South Africa's Shark Spotter program or Brazil's tag and remove approach, both of which have shown outcomes without the environmental impact of a cull.

"These experts question the WA Government's claims that the environmental impact will be low, pointing to issues such as a lack of proper knowledge about population numbers and growing evidence about the impact of removing apex predators from the environment.

"The final decision on the future of this cull lies with Minister Hunt, who cannot ignore the weight of scientific evidence that has been presented. I urge the Minister to recognise the flaws in this policy and reject the WA Government's application," Senator Siewert concluded.


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