After the first shark was shot in Western Australia's controversial shark cull program this week, activists have alleged that the fisherman who shot the female tiger shark made several mistakes.
First, the shark was not the required length of three meters (9.8 feet), says West Australians for Shark Conservation president Ross Weir. This requirement exists to ensure that only the most dangerous animals are included in the cull, and that juveniles are not targeted. You can see footage of the first shark here [Warning: Footage may be disturbing].
Conservationists also allege that the fisherman was unable to properly identify the species of the shark -- another requirement for the cull. Animal Rescue Team spokeswoman Amy-Lea Wilkins said in a press conference that a group of activists took surveillance footage on the water with the fisherman, who was not named. PerthNow reports:
Our team had a conversation with the fisherman about the species of shark and what he's doing. Part of the Government tender was that the contractor was able to successfully identify the shark species and we have him (on video) saying he thoroughly checked over the shark species and it's a bull shark. He was adamant. Then he starts backtracking and saying it might be a pig-eye shark. The animal caught on Sunday was definitely a tiger shark and that's the problem, he's misidentified it as a bull shark and maybe a pig-eye. We're highly concerned that the Government has rushed the tender process.
The fisherman later told PerthNow that he is "working out the right processes and procedures" for the task of checking the drumlines baited near the shore to lure in sharks. The government of Western Australia has not responded to activists' claims about the first shark culled.
The news comes just a day after over 100 scientists penned a letter expressing their opposition to the cull and calling for an alternative method. Environmentalists, scuba divers, and even the family of a shark attack victim have said that the cull, which is intended to decrease fatal shark attacks, may increase attacks on humans by drawing them closer to shore.