Wednesday 20 June 2018

Australian authorities rule out cull of great white sharks despite spate of attacks

Sarah-Jane Murphy

Australia has announced that it will not carry out a cull on great white sharks despite a string of attacks leaving one surfer dead and two others seriously injured.

Residents from the tourist town of Ballina in New South Wales (NSW) have begged the government for help, saying visitor numbers to the coastal region have plummeted following the attacks.

The most recent incident in late July left a 52-year-old surfer with extensive arm and leg injuries, while a few weeks previously, a 32-year-old body-boarder was injured.

In February, a 41-year-old Japanese surfer died after he was attacked by a shark.

NSW's Primary Industries Minister said $250,000(AUS) would be invested in observing, tagging and tracking sharks in the area, with world-renowned experts taking charge of the project.

Read More: Monstrous 13ft long shark caught in Australia as surfers call for cull

"Let's not forget the ocean is the domain of the shark," Mr Blair said in a statement.

"However, this government is taking action to gain a better understanding of the local risks and how they can be reduced to help inform and protect the public."

Officials are exploring non-lethal methods for lowering risks including barriers preventing sharks from getting near swimmers.

Read More: Surfer fights off shark in Australia attack

Great white sharks are a protected species due to their declining population.

The plentiful presence of sharks off Ballina, which has seen beaches along the coast repeatedly closed in recent weeks, have been blamed on schools of baitfish in the area.

However a spokesman for a local shark research centre said it was not known why there had been a sudden increase in shark numbers.

"We have no idea and nowhere in the world does anyone have any idea what causes these sudden appearances of groups of sharks along the coast," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"If we are able to determine that then hopefully the aim would then be to be able to be pre-emptive in the years ahead."

The state government is also undertaking a review of new shark control technologies, with a report to be completed by September.

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