BY BRIANNA BRIGGS
The debate about culling sharks to help prevent attacks has arisen again after a six-metre tiger shark was killed by fishermen off the coast of Seven Mile Beach.
Just weeks after the chilling video of Mick Fanning’s encounter with a White Pointer went viral, local fishermen posted photos to Facebook after pulling a monster shark into their boat near the beach on the north NSW coast. The men were reeling in a smaller hammerhead shark believed to be behind recent attacks in the area when they saw the bigger shark devour it whole.
Surfers claimed the shark is on the “small end of the scale” compared with others seen over the last few years. In February this year a Japanese surfer was killed by a shark, and since then two other people have been mauled and remain in hospital. At a community meeting almost 200 surfers voted in favour of a partial cull to prevent further attacks or deaths.
Not everyone is in favour of this solution. Conservationists say that culling will not minimise human and shark interactions but will instead harm the ecosystem, with many shark species already on the endangered list.
Beach goers just want to know where the sharks are coming from. Shark sightings are increasing and researchers are working to find out why. Tracking sharks to learn about their behaviour has been proposed as an alternative solution to the area’s concerns without the loss of either people or sharks.
Ballina Shire Mayor David Wright said he was against the culling of sharks, but was also concerned that local surfers could “take matters into their own hands”, and start killing sharks outside a controlled environment if a resolution is not found. Surfers said they know what they’re getting themselves into when they enter the home of a dangerous animal, but they are concerned that the next victim could be a tourist who does not understand the way the beach works.
The men who caught the huge tiger shark at Seven Mile claimed to have handed its body over to the CSIRO for study, but spokesmen for the CSIRO denied any knowledge of the animal.