Shark culling: Australia to use baited drum lines to kill sharks

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Originally published on January 6, 2014

In response to seven fatal shark attacks in three years, the Western Australian government is planning to place baited hooks off of Perth's most popular beaches, according to the BBC.

The WA government plans to install some 72 baited hooks on drum lines one kilometre (mile) off the beaches in designated zones by January 10. The lines would consist of hooks and shackles attached to foam drums and roped anchors. The apparati target sharks more than three metres long, including Great Whites, Tiger and Bull sharks. Contracted fishermen will monitor the lines and "humanely" destroy any sharks that are found alive, and discard their bodies offshore. Other animals that are caught will be released alive "if possible", according to the BBC.

Thousands, including politicians and activists are protesting the move, saying that culling will not solve the problem and that it would also damage the ocean's ecosystem. Further demonstrations are planned, with officials fearing protesters may sabotage the lines once they are in operation.

More than 100 scientists have signed an open letter opposing the government's move, offering alternatives such as capturing, tagging, transporting and releasing large sharks offshore. These methods have been effective in Brazil, where research efforts have been helped using more humane methods, according to a report by Care2.

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