Shark conservation expert David Shiffman has been covering this news here and here; in brief, three people have been killed recently by sharks. This is obviously sad. But calling for legislation to legalize a currently illegal “shark cull” is idiotic. Primarily because it is very unlikely to affect shark attacks on people (as David explains) and because of the ginourmous negative impacts of a regional-scale shark massacre.
Even the Australian public is against the idea. PerthNow ran a story and poll about Australian’s view of this proposed solution and only 22% were supportive (and WA is a very conservative and not especially pro-environment place).
Coastal Western Australia is home to many species of sharks. Several of these species are endangered or threatened. Few of these species pose any threat whatsoever to humans. Many serve critically important roles in the marine ecosystem. Almost all would be killed under this new proposed rule (shark fishing gear is indiscriminate).
Any human death or injury is a tragedy, but we must remember that the odds of being killed by a shark are still incredibly low. Killing so many sharks indiscriminately could result in an ecological catastrophe. Worst of all, it won’t result in making the beaches any safer for humans- sharks like the great white migrate across the oceans regularly, so killing the great whites that happen to be near Western Australia will harm their threatened populations without making Western Australian waters free of great whites for long. – David Schiffman AKA Why Sharks Matter