The Western Australian government's official tally for its shark cull policy was released and more than 170 sharks were caught on drum lines off popular beaches. The great white shark, the cause of fatal attacks on humans, was not part of the government's official "kill" tally.
The catch and kill policy had a trial run for three months and the state government has called it a "success." Baited drum lines were set off near Perth's popular beaches including two off the coast of South West following the increase of shark attacks in recent years.
Out of 172 sharks, 50 tiger sharks longer than three metres were killed. Other than sharks, eight other marine animals were caught in drumlines including stingrays but not a single great white shark was captured and killed under the government's trial program.
Finance Minister Ken Baston said the catch and kill program had "restored the confidence" of beachgoers. Mr Baston said the government's strategy "went well" and served its purpose of protecting people from shark attacks.
He said no great white sharks were caught because he has been told that the "great white season" comes later.
Despite the government's claims of a successful trial, Labour fisheries spokesman Dave Kelly begs to differ. He said the shark cull was unpopular to the majority of Australians and Western Australia has yet to provide scientific evidence of its "successful" policy.
Greens MP Lynn McLaren said the shark cull program has not lowered the risk of attacks to swimmers and suggested it should be scrapped. She believes reducing the population of tiger sharks does not improve safety in beaches. Millions of dollars have been spent on the baited drumlines. Ms McLaren said the money would be better off spent in shark research.
Western Australia's bid for extension of its shark cull policy is still under review. Western Australia's Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) will be evaluating the country's plan to extend its shark cull policy for up to three years.
The environmental watchdog has previously dismissed the shark cull trial assessment which began in January and set to end in the last week of April. The decision has angered conversationists. The three-year shark cull bid came after the fisheries staff attempted to catch and kill a huge white shark seen swimming close to Perth beaches earlier in April.