The South African government, a global leader in shark conservation, spoke out against Western Australia's shark cull, saying that the program could upset migration patterns and have implications on shark populations around the world. [Warning: Disturbing images]
A spokesman for South Africa's department of environmental affairs told Guardian Australia that "extractive activities focused on shared stocks may have local implications" for shark species that may migrate thousands of miles from Australia to South Africa, a country that has used shark nets to protect swimmers since 1952.
South Africa, like many other countries, is investigating several measures in a bid to protect bathers and surfers. Shark exclusion nets have had success; however their application is limited to less energetic coastlines, such as sheltered bays. Electrical repellents in the form of the shark shield and now shark pod have been developed, and other agencies are working on developing a shark repellent cable. The application involves the creation of an electric field barrier around bathing areas.
Since the cull began, about six smaller sharks have been caught, and the first trapped shark believed to be large enough was shot on Friday morning. The government received special permission to skirt environmental laws protecting endangered species for the cull, which is intended to decrease the number of fatal attacks on humans.
Opponents of the policy like scuba divers, marine biologists, conservationists and even the family of a shark attack victim say that the the cull is barbaric and inhumane. There were 15 protest rallies against the program last week in Australia.