Conservationists have vowed to continue the fight against Western Australia’s shark kill policy, despite being dealt another blow in a bid to end the so-called cull.
After earlier losing a legal bid to have the baited drumlines off the WA coast removed, on Wednesday the state’s Environmental Protection Authority declined to formally assess the program which has claimed over 100 sharks since the start of the year.
Despite more than 23,000 submissions, the most received by the EPA on one issue, chairman Paul Vogel said this year’s program would not have a significant effect on the environment.
But state and federal MPs, as well as conservation groups, voiced outrage at the decision and immediately demanded an appeal.
Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said the ruling that the policy was not impacting the environment was a nonsense.
‘This policy is nothing more than a kneejerk, indiscriminate cull that has already harmed over 100 sharks,’ Ms Siewert said.
‘Many sharks are being injured or attacked on the lines and we don’t know how many are dying after they’re released.’
It was revealed on Wednesday the drumlines off Perth and the state’s south-west had caught 104 sharks, including 101 Tiger sharks. Forty of those were either dead or destroyed, with 30 of them over three metres long.
The policy to kill any great white, tiger or bull shark bigger than three metres spotted in surfing and swimming hotspots was allowed by federal environment minister Greg Hunt.
He granted WA an exemption under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, allowing the protected species to be killed until the end of the trial on April 30.
Dr Vogel said the 13-and-a-half week program posed a ‘negligible risk’ to target and non-target species of sharks, and to the broader ecosystem.
However, in a early warning to Premier Colin Barnett’s plan to roll out a similar policy next summer, Dr Vogel said his ruling today was not a carte blanche endorsement.
‘I need to see where they intend to do it (next year), and how they intend to do it,’ Dr Vogel said.
WA Greens MP Lynn McLaren questioned whether the policy would be fully assessed next summer if it was only put in place for three months.
‘If the Premier instates the drum lines in brief and frequent stints over a long time frame, does he forever avoid an environmental assessment of this barbaric policy?’ Ms McLaren said.
The EPA said any appeals received against the EPA’s decision would be investigated by the Appeals Convenor and determined by the Minister for Environment, Albert Jacob.