The Western Australia shark cull three-month trial saw the first shark killed on 26 January and had a total of 172 sharks killed.
The government, who decided killing hundreds of endangered sharks was the only viable solution to protect its citizens after ten people were killed by sharks over the last ten years in Australia’s western coastline, hailed the program as a complete success.
Of the 172 sharks caught, less than a third were over the target size of three meters and not one great white was killed.
The crew also caught accidentally seven rays and a North West Blowfish.
The 50 sharks longer than three metres caught cost the taxpayers $1.28 million, which translates to $25,000 per shark.
Now, the government gave the program the green light and stated in their review that the cull should be extended for another three summers.
Marine experts and animal welfare and environmental organizations have criticised the move saying that the shark population is endangered as it is, with over 100 million sharks illegally killed yearly to provide the shark fin industry.
Fisheries Minister Ken Baston said the program had restored the confidence of beachgoers.
“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,” he said.
“No great whites were caught, and the reasons I’ve been told is because that great white season is later, but we were actually only after the three species of shark that are deemed dangerous to humans.
“If any of that type of shark was in the boundaries of one kilometre, where the drum lines were, then they took the bait and got caught.”
The next cull will have up to 60 lines dropped from November 15 to increase the potential for capturing a white shark.
Premier Colin Barnett said the shark cull had significantly less environmental impacts than other shark culls because not one turtle or dolphin were caught.
Barnett said the report “vindicated” the policy and that “$1.3 million is a significant amount of money, but only a small part of the $22 million the State Government is spending on shark mitigation.”
Experts say the cull will not be effective and it only gives people a false sense of security, which will ultimately lead to more attacks because people will be less careful.
Chris Lowe, professor of marine biology at California State University, said to IBTimesUK that if the shark cull is extended to 2017, it has the potential to lead to even more attacks because of the “false sense of security” a cull brings.
Lowe analysed the killing of almost 5,000 sharks in Hawaii from the 1950s and found that the culls had “no measurable effect” on the rate of shark attacks.
“When you look at the number of people in the water every year, it still clearly demonstrates that sharks don’t see people as something on their menu. In fact what we see is that they avoid the most crowded beaches. So is it worth performing culls or should we be educating the public about how we’re going to have to learn to share the ocean with predators again?
“As we see shark populations recover, due to protection, the rate of incidents will go up a little bit. But the main point we’re making is that it’s not going up nearly as fast as the rate of shark population growth and the increasing number of people going in the water.
“It’s this unrealistic fear [of shark attacks] that’s driving many of these ridiculous policies that are undermining all the things we’ve been trying to do for decades – bring populations back.”
According to global figures, more people are killed each year by hippos, deer, jellyfish, dogs, ants and even roller coasters, american football, hot dogs and falling coconuts than by sharks.
Greens MP Lynn MacLaren said: “Reducing the population of tiger sharks does nothing to improve beach safety.”
She added that the millions being spent on killing sharks would be better spent on research about them to have a better understanding.