Stop Plan to Kill Threatened Sharks


Target: Colin Barnett, Premier of Western Australia

Goal: Avoid unnecessary shark deaths by using non-lethal shark deterrent devices

The Western Australia government recently announced plans to kill sharks that come too close to shore. In a frantic effort to reduce the increasing frequency of attacks, commercial fishermen will be hired to catch and kill sharks that enter zones near populated tourist beaches.

Western Australia has seen six fatal shark attacks over the past two years, an apparent increase from previous years. Rather than exploring non-fatal shark deterrent methods, the government has chosen to kill the sharks, some species of which are critically endangered. Commercial fishing boats will be hired to patrol beach zones to catch large sharks such as great whites, bring them aboard, and kill them. Baited drum lines will be set to hook other sharks, which most often drown due to a lack of mobility.

The Western Australia coast is home to many vulnerable, endangered, and critically endangered shark species, including great whites, grey nurse sharks, mako sharks, as well as speartooth and other sharks. These sharks also face threats from coastal development, depletion of food fish by commercial fisheries, pollution, and the shark-fin market. Some species have seen a 90% decline in population over the past 25 years, while decreases of 70% are quite common. Evidence shows that due to the long life and infrequent reproduction raters of some species, such as great whites, killing a single shark of breeding maturity is harmful to the population.

Measures do need to be taken to reduce shark attacks, but it is important to look at a long-term fix rather than a short-term emergency patch. Research should be conducted as to why sharks are moving closer inland and becoming bolder around humans, and a solution should be found to the root of the problem.

Until then, there are many effective and non-fatal shark deterrent methods available. Underwater devices emit an electric signal which deters sharks by interfering with their electroreceptor organs. A wall of high-intensity air bubbles would interfere with the shark’s ability to detect water movement, while light and sound deterrents are also available.

It is vital that while the Western Australia government tries to save human lives, they do not forsake their humanity in the process. Sharks are intelligent, sentient creatures in real danger of extinction, and a solution should be found that reduces harm to both sharks and humans. Ask that the Western Australia government consider non-fatal methods of shark attack reduction.


Dear Colin Barnett, Premier of Western Australia,

The Western Australia government has recently announced drum lines and commercial fishing as shark attack reduction measures near popular beaches. These fatal deterrent methods threaten endangered and critically endangered shark species, some of which have seen population reductions of 90% over the past 25 years.

A more effective way to curb the attacks would be to research the reason the attacks are increasing and work from the root of the issue. During that time, there are effective and non-fatal deterrent devices available that employ the use of electric fields, bubbles, light, and sound.

I ask that you consider these methods, which reduce harm to both sharks and humans, rather than an unsustainable emergency fix such as killing the sharks.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Terry Goss via Creative Commons

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  1. Do not blame sharks for foolish human choices to go into shark habitats.

  2. I agree with the letter — except no electric fields.

  3. We Aussies are so cruel the only answer that ever comes is KILL KILL KILL .

  4. Helene Beck says:

    When I wrote directly to Colin Barnett MLA about this matter, he replied:
    “Dear Ms Beck


    Thank you for your recent email in relation to the Western Australian Government’s shark hazard mitigation policy.

    In the last 3 years Western Australia has experienced an unprecedented number of fatalities from shark attacks, causing a large proportion of the population to reconsider their water use. In response the Western Australian Government has developed a new shark hazard mitigation policy which complements previous strategies to addressing what is a public safety issue. The Government’s approach is not a cull of sharks, but does attempt to provide the general public with areas supported by enhanced shark hazard mitigation measures.

    The Western Australian Government is cognisant of the environmental challenges surrounding sharks and the policy has been developed with this in mind. Whilst the current public focus is on the Marine Monitored Areas the policy contains a suite of strategies that will be implemented over time.

    Research and education is another facet of the policy that will see Western Australians accessing more facts about sharks and other hazard mitigation measures. These measures currently include; education, Surf Life Saving supported areas, aerial, water and beach patrols, onsite trauma packs, and signage and drum lines. As the research reveals more about sharks, technology will change and so will the types of measures implemented. Education is a strong focus of the Government’s strategy, targeting the various user groups to convey recommendations and re-instil water user confidence.

    The shark hazard mitigation policy encompasses short, medium and long term strategies to ensure that the Western Australian Government upholds its duty of care. It also offers the people of Western Australia the ability to make responsible decisions about their water use.

    Yours sincerely”

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