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Greens call on Senate to support shark research and oppose culling moves

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 10 Dec 2013

The Australian Greens said today that the Federal Government needs to maintain protections for the Great White Shark under Commonwealth legislation, as the WA Government moves to target some of the animals under a newly announced shark plan.

"I will move a motion in the Senate tomorrow calling on the Federal Government to maintain protection of the Great White and oppose any cull proposals made by the WA Government. The motion also calls for an increase in the research needed to better understand shark populations around Australia's coast," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens marine spokesperson said today.

"Recent, tragic attacks around Australia have put a national focus on sharks. This is an incredibly tough time for families, friends and communities.

"It is important that the response of Governments is responsible and focused on delivering improved long term safety for those who love our oceans, but does not put further pressure on vulnerable shark populations or other marine life.

"The WA Government's announcement opens the door to sharks being caught and killed. I am concerned by the potential for sharks caught in demersal fish nets not to be released, and the message this sends to the fishing industry and community about the protection of a threatened species. Both of these actions could be in contravention of the EPBC Act.

"We know very little about sharks, so it becomes very hard to determine if more sharks are using our coastal zones and if their behaviour is changing. Further research, including radio tagging, is vital to better understand the shark population, as is an examination of issues such as ocean warming, which we know can affect the behaviour of all marine life.

"Measures based on the capture and killing of a threatened and protected species in not a responsible step. I encourage the Senate to back this motion," Senator Siewert concluded.

The State Greens spokesperson for Biodiversity Ms Lynn MacLaren MLC also called on the Premier to drop plans to install drum-lines along popular South-West surf-breaks.

"I encourage the Government to use money it will otherwise spend on implementing drum-lines to divert these funds to the area that the marine scientific community is saying will really help protect the people utilising deeper water, such as surfers and divers. We need further research and education about how fatal sharks occur and can be avoided.

"There is so little we yet know about large sharks; we can certainly develop a more appropriate solution than just killing them."

Motion Text

Acknowledges that the Great White Shark is listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act as a threatened (vulnerable) and migratory species.

Calls on the Government to: 

a) maintain protection for the Great White Shark under the EPBC Act

b) oppose any proposals to cull Great White Sharks by the Western Australian Government 

c) support further research including radio tagging to better understand the shark population,  including any changes in their behavior as result of ocean warming, which will allow Governments to better inform and protect ocean users.

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