UPDATE: Sixty-six sharks have been caught on drum lines in the first three weeks of the State Government’s cull strategy.
At a rally on the front steps of State Parliament this afternoon, opponents of the shark-kill policy denounced the catch figures as environmental vandalism.
Sharon Burden, the mother of 2011 Bunker Bay shark attack victim Kyle Burden, described the policy as “mediocre and fundamentally flawed in concept and design”.
During an emotional speech, Ms Burden called on the Government to scrap the drum-line program and instead focus on researching great white sharks.
Opposition Leader Mark McGowan, who drew a round of cheers when he said Labor opposed the policy, said it was ineffective and a waste of money.
Mr McGowan said the Government should at the very least have subjected the policy to a proper assessment under the Environmental Protection Authority.
“The Government made a mistake (but) it’s not too late for them to recognise that and ... revoke the policy,” Mr McGowan said.
More than a third of the 66 sharks caught were killed, including nine that were undersized.
Fisheries Minister Ken Baston said this morning that the early results showed the $23 million shark hazard mitigation program was working well.
According to Mr Baston, 63 of the sharks captured were tiger sharks, two were mako sharks and the one was a black tipped shark.
The biggest shark caught was 4.1m tiger shark in the South West.
The South West contractor, who started on January 25, had caught 23 sharks, disposing of 13 tiger sharks over 3m and releasing six smaller sharks.
Since February 1, Fisheries Department crews operating at five metropolitan beach sites have caught 43 sharks. Four tiger sharks were shot and 34 were released. ID tags for research and tracking were secured to 28 of these.
Mr Baston said that 49 of the sharks were under 3m, nine were dead and 40 were released alive.
He said there had been no by-catch of any other marine species.
“We believe the hook and bait systems we are using are successfully targeting larger sharks and not other fish species, and I commend the crews who have been diligent in releasing as many caught sharks as possible,” Mr Baston said.
The Fisheries vessel used in metropolitan waters has been modified with a specially constructed ramp and sea water circulation system to ensure sharks smaller than 3m survived.
The latest figures were current as at 6pm Sunday.