Scientists and surfers have visited Parliament House today to speak about non-lethal alternatives to WA Premier Colin Barnett's shark cull.
Professor Jessica Meeuwig from UWA, Professor Rob Harcourt from Macquarie University, Dr Charlie Huveneers from Flinders University and Brendon Donohoe, Chairman of Surfrider Foundation Australia gave a briefing for MPs and staff in Parliament House today, co-sponsored by Western Australian Senator Rachel Siewert and MP for Fremantle Melissa Parke.
"Today's briefing provided an important opportunity for Federal MPs to hear the science about sharks and the reasons why catch and kill policies, such as WA's shark cull, are indiscriminate and ineffective," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens marine spokesperson said today.
"It is clear that the people of WA are saying ‘not in our name', surfers are saying ‘not in surfer's name' and scientists are saying ‘not in science's name'.
"This briefing comes following the release of a Letter of Expert Concern with more than 300 signatures, which has been presented to the WA EPA and was acknowledged by the Senate last week. The letter demonstrates that there is no evidence that the cull will make beaches safer. This is an important message to bring to Parliament House, given that the final decision about whether or not this cull will continue rests with Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt.
"Measures such as environmentally friendly shark barriers, personal safety devices, South Africa's shark spotters program or Brazil's catch and release relocation program are all examples of non-lethal mitigation measures that are being ignored by the WA Government's Public Environmental Review (PER).
"Science, evidence and the wishes of the WA community need to guide and inform the decision of the EPA and Environment Minister Hunt, so I am grateful to Professors Meeuwig and Hardcourt, Dr. Hoovers and Mr Donohoe for their time and commitment in coming to Canberra," Senator Siewert said.
"The Federal Minister for the Environment has a very important role to play because it's up to him whether he allows this program to forward or not, so we wanted to share with him and his Parliamentary colleagues that there are really good, non-lethal alternatives that exist and that can be chosen rather than killing protected species," Professor Jessica Meeuwig said following today's briefing.
"Drum lines won't make people safer. They're very expensive, they're inefficient and they aren't going to save lives. They're targeting protected species so we really need to transition to some of the currently available successful alternatives, like South Africa's shark spotter program, which would be totally appropriate for Margaret River, and also the Brazilian tag and tow approach," Professor Meeuwig concluded.