Australian War on Shark Attacks Sparks Uproar

Scuba divers fear plan could actually increase danger
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2014 12:11 PM CST
Australian War on Shark Attacks Sparks Uproar
Australia has sparked controversy with a plan to reduce shark attacks.   (Shutterstock)

Six people have been killed by sharks in Western Australia over the past two years, meaning that when it comes to shark attacks, the state is the deadliest place on Earth. Now, officials are trying to do something about it: They're set to install 72 baited hooks attached to floats near eight popular beaches, Time reports. Under the plan, some sharks will be fatally trapped, the Guardian reports. And if contracted fishermen see a shark longer than 10 feet nearby, it will be their job to kill the animal.

But conservationists and their supporters are fuming at the plan: Last weekend saw a gathering of 4,500 in Perth to protest. "What they are doing is illegal and violates 15 different United Nations conventions and treaties," notes one activist. It could also hurt other species; in fact, the "bycatch" of drum lining, as the practice is called, is five times the target catch, meaning dolphins, whales, turtles, and other species could be killed. Also controversial: The approach targets the endangered great white shark. There's also concern among scuba divers that the plan could backfire, the Guardian notes: The bait could encourage sharks to come closer to shore, they say. Officials are standing firm: "While we understand this policy will be divisive and cause anxiety for some in the community, it is clear that the number of fatalities in recent years required a stronger response." (More Australia stories.)

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