The Senate has passed an Australian Greens motion condemning WA's catch and kill shark policy, and has called on Environment Minister Greg Hunt to revoke the exemption enabling the cull to take place.
The motion was moved this afternoon by Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens marine spokesperson.
"The Senate has condemned WA's shark cull and called for its exemption under the EPBC Act to be revoked," Senator Siewert said today.
"The Environment Minister has a responsibility to protect great white sharks and other marine life and should not have exempted this cull from the EPBC Act. I call on him to revoke the exemption and assess this flawed policy.
"The WA Government has broken its commitment to minimise the environmental impact of this policy by using hooks that would not catch undersized sharks. The vast majority of sharks caught on the drum lines have been under the 3 metre size limit.
"The Environment Minister's decision to grant an exemption to the EPBC Act was made on the basis of this and other commitments from Premier Barnett. Paragraph 17 of Minister Hunt's letter cites the WA Government's commitment to ‘the use of a large hook size on the baited drum lines reducing the chance of small shark by-catch'. The letter states that failing to meet the requirements of this paragraph could result in ‘review or possible revocation of the exemption'.
"I encourage the Minister to examine this breach immediately and take action. It is important that he gets access to the information required for such an assessment given the secrecy under which the WA Government is operating.
"Avoiding scrutiny is no doubt one of the WA Government's main reasons for not disclosing the numbers and types of sharks being caught.
"Premier Barnett knows that this is an unjustified policy that is not supported by science or the community. The cull needs to be immediately halted," Senator Siewert concluded.
Minister Hunt's letter is available here.
The Senate notes that:
a) The Minister for the Environment has granted an exemption to Western Australia under section 158 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) to all of the provisions of part 3 of the act to allow the setup of baited drum lines off sections of the West Australian coast with the intent to catch and kill: great white sharks, tiger sharks and bull sharks over three meters.
b) The Western Australian Government has broken its commitment to minimising the environmental impact as indicated in paragraph 17 of the exemption that "the use of a large hook size on the baited drum lines reducing the chance of small shark by-catch"
c) There is a lack of public reporting by the Western Australian Government on the number of sharks and other marine life, caught, killed and released.
d) Communities and Surf Life Saving WA indicate that at least 36 sharks have been caught since the drum lines were set up, 32 of which were smaller than 3m, contravening clause 17 of the exemption.
e) As stated in paragraph 23 failure to abide by terms set out in paragraph 17 will give cause for review and possible revocation of the exemption.
1. Condemn the Catch and Kill Shark Policy of the Western Australian Government.
2. Calls on the Minister for the Environment to revoke the exemption made to the Western Australian Government under section 158 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).