Sea Shepherd Australia, in conjunction with shark researchers, is calling on the Western Australian Government and the Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt to revise WA's shark-bait-and-kill initiative with a view to maximize the survival rates of undersized sharks caught on the drum lines.
The move comes after damning footage reveals that undersized tiger sharks are being dumped in a state of stress and sinking to the ocean floor, without best practice release techniques being applied.
Jeff Hansen, Managing Director of Sea Shepherd Australia stated that the current model in Brazil, which is backed by published academic research, involves sharks being placed in a tank filled with running sea water, affording the sharks plenty of room to swim in large circles, thereby minimizing stress.
"Currently the drum line initiative is overwhelmingly capturing undersized tiger sharks, which are then being dumped injured and stressed without giving the shark maximum chances of survival," Mr. Hansen said. "Shark experts have agreed that if the sharks are given the opportunity to swim after being caught, then their chances of survival are increased."
More than 100 tiger sharks have been caught on the state's drum lines since they were deployed on January 25th of this year. Recent figures released by the WA Department of Fisheries demonstrate that over 70% of the sharks caught on the drum lines are undersized, and therefore included as “totally protected fish” under the Fisheries Resources Management Act.
Tiger sharks are also well-known to play a vital role in maintaining the health of our oceans, and have been coexisting with humans without incident off Perth's metropolitan beaches since 1968.
In addition to improving the survival rates of undersized sharks caught on the drum lines, Sea Shepherd and the nosharkcull alliance are urging State and Federal Liberal ministers to consult with the community and consider a range of alternatives to drum lines.
The alliance has been in discussions with community members within the South-West and supported a community forum in Perth, in order to encourage open dialogue about the best way to mitigate shark incidents.
"We welcome and encourage Liberal Party members to open their doors in order to find an alternative solution which the majority of the community will embrace," Mr. Hansen said.