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WA: Tiger shark cut up and left to die

Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, and environment minister, Greg Hunt, have come under fire in recent weeks for their apparent lack of concern for the environment and have faced calls for a redress of the shark kill policy.
The Western Australian shark cull appears to be unscientific and counterproductive, endangerin the top predators – already greatly depleted – which sustain the ecosystem of the seas.
Even though several targetted species of shark are classified as vulnerable on the IUCN red list of endangered species, the goal of the cull is to seek out all potential killer sharks of more than three metres and most likely "maneaters" within WA coastal waters.

Last year, Australia was praised all over the world for creating the biggest marine reserves. This year, the world is looking at Australia - and particularly Western Australia - and wondering 'what on earth is going on?'

—Sir Richard Branson

Western Australia state government policy allows sharks to be caught and killed.

Baited hooks are being placed on drum lines off popular beaches in and around Perth to kill white, bull and tiger sharks. Any shark longer than three metres (10 feet) snagged by the lines will be killed, with the first shark shot dead last week. The policy states smaller sharks are to be released, but undersized sharks has been was found dead on hooks.

Global opposition from scientists, conservationists and even shark attack victims shows there is little justification for Western Australia's controversial cull

Several celebrities have also criticised the cull, including Sir Richard Branson, who said it was "very sad" such a bad example was being set to the rest of the world.

The WA government has defended it decision stating that a spike in shark attacks has dented tourism and leisure businesses, with recreational diving operators reporting a greater than 90% plunge in people learning to dive.

There were 10 shark attacks in Australian waters in 2013 – the lowest annual total since nine were recorded in 2008 and lower than the 12.3 average attacks per year during the past 10 years (2003-2012), according to researchers at the University of Florida.

As recently as 2012, a report commissioned by the WA government rejected the use of drum lines as an effective option to reduce shark bite risk, so the deployment of these lines now seems to be a huge step backwards in shark conservation.

The catch-and-kill policy lasts until April, when it will face a full environmental assessment.