Western Australia halts state funding for shark tagging and tracking

Government’s move criticised in state’s legislature by opposition parties

By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Great white shark in captivity at Monterey Bay aquarium (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The government of the Australian state of West Australia has been criticised by the opposition in the state legislature for stopping funding to shark tracking and tagging, a report in The Guardian has said.

The Department of Fisheries of West Australia was allocated $2 million for shark tagging and tracking for the financial years of 2014 and 2015.

But the fisheries minister, Ken Baston, said the project had ended because researchers believed enough sharks had been tagged for behaviour analysis. Baston said the shark monitoring network, which keeps track of more than 600 sharks off the West Australia coast, would continue to operate and that the department would tag more sharks if the opportunity arose during normal business.
However, opposition parties cried foul at the move.

Greens party MP Lynn MacLaren said the tagging and tracking program was “one of the few aspects of the government’s shark hazard policy last year that made sense”.

“The term ‘white elephant’ comes to mind when I think of those expensive receivers left in the ocean without anyone to maintain them. Presumably, the government has decided that finding out more about great white sharks and their behaviour is no longer important. If that is the case, the government has not got a leg to stand on if it wants to kill any more of them,” MacLaren said.
The opposition spokesperson on fisheries, Dave Kelly, said he was “staggered”.

“Throughout the whole shark debate, we have called for a calm response that is guided by science to reduce the risk to swimmers,” he said. “That means aerial patrols and a strong tagging and monitoring programme.

“We should be increasing resources in this area, not taking them away,” he added.

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