Western Australia Premier Josh Barnett’s refusal to abandon his disfavoured ‘catch-and-kill’ shark cull policy is forcing individuals to act.
Animal activists, surfers, and beachgoers have begun rescuing distressed animals and removing bait from the government's drum lines that are used to capture sharks along Western Australian coasts.
The Western Australian Animal Rescue Team claims they have definitive footage of distressed stingrays caught on every single drum line.
Animal Rescue spokesperson Amy-Lea Wilkins said that every hook they discovered had an animal attached to it.
The rescue team that were monitoring the baited hooks included a veterinarian and a marine biologist.
Individuals also took to the drum lines to remove bait in an attempt to prevent the sharks from becoming captured.
Barnett argued the policy would only see shallow-water lurking sharks destroyed, but using bait lures in sharks who would have otherwise kept their distance.
President of Western Australians for Shark Conservation Ross Weir was overwhelmed that individuals were taking such safety risks to try and protect marine life.
"These guys down there are very dedicated and passionate - they are willing to put their lives on the line,” Weir said.
Various environmental groups have also condemned the culling method as ‘cruel and inhumane.’
A public outcry was sparked when the first shark was killed on Australia Day after being shot in the head four times.
Sea Shepherd Australia managing director Jeff Hansen believes the death of the first shark was cruel and could have lasted for hours.
“This method is utterly cruel and inhumane; the animals can take hours to die.”
Barnett’s policy has been flagged for its distinct lack of vocal support. A Seven News Facebook poll found 94.1% of respondents did not support the shark cull.
Barnett still stands by the policy.
“We are trying to achieve a reasonable balance between conservation and public safety.’