The West

Dumping dead sharks a waste
Dumping dead sharks a waste

A WA man who has been closely involved in shark tagging and research activities in South Africa says it is pointless to dump killed white pointers at sea.

Blair Ranford, who since 2010 has spent three months a year with South Africa's Dyer Island Conservation Trust studying white pointers, said he opposed the Barnett Government's shark catch-and-kill plan.

But if the Government was going to push ahead with the policy, it made no sense to dispose of captured great white sharks at sea, he said.

Since the Government announced the policy in mid-December, it has emerged that sharks caught on drum lines off Perth and South West beaches will be shot and dumped offshore.

Ahead of an announcement this week on which commercial fishermen will set and monitor the drum lines - and with the devices to be deployed by Friday - Mr Ranford also called for independent observers to be on the boats.

He said observers would be needed to ensure the integrity of the policy as well as oversee "the correct determination of species, size and animal handling protocols".

On Saturday, thousands of protesters rallied at Cottelsoe beach in opposition to the Government's plan to bait and kill sharks.

Mr Ranford said the policy had no scientific justification and would undo much of recent research work into white sharks, including a tagging program by the WA and South Australian governments to track their movements.

He said remarkably little was known about the "misunderstood" species and one of the only potential upsides to the policy would have involved bringing dead white sharks ashore to dissect and study.

However, Mr Ranford said the Government was not even aiming to do this - a decision he said was counterproductive.

"You're basically killing them for nothing - you're not learning anything from these animals," he said.

"It's bad enough to kill them but it's twice as bad not going to learn anything from it because dead, large sharks are extremely rare to get your hands on."

Mr Ranford said WA could learn a lot from South Africa.

In Cape Town, authorities had opted for public education campaigns and daily surveillance of beaches by lifeguards in lookouts - strategies he believed the WA Government had not properly pursued.

The West Australian

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