One of the many reasons for the decline has been long line fishing for sharks, where an estimated 75 million are killed each year by Japan, China, and others. Never once would anyone have thought that Australia, literally ground zero for global warming, would have joined that murderous club, but following the election of a hard right conservative government that appears to be the case.
Australia killed 50 big sharks in the first test of its controversial shark cull program, though none were great whites—the type blamed for the attacks on swimmers that sparked the cull in the first place, reports ABC News of Australia. The government set baited hooks near seven beaches in West Australia and caught 172 sharks from January to April, when the program ended. It killed the 50 biggest ones, mostly tiger sharks about 10 feet or longer, and released the rest, reports the Australian.
“I think the strategy’s gone very well, bearing in mind that it’s a very broad strategy, and that’s basically to protect those people that swim in those popular areas,” says a government fisheries official. The feds want to extend the program, put into place after great whites killed six swimmers, for another three years. But critics are pouncing on the obvious: “So we know that the great white shark is the shark that has been implicated in fatalities off our coast, and no great white sharks were captured on the drum lines in this whole program,” says a member of the opposition Greens party.