WA government confirms 17 tiger sharks killed

· Sharks being mauled on WA drum lines
· WA fisheries officers fear activists
· Protesters oppose shark policy
· Tributes flow for surfer

Seventeen tiger sharks caught on drum lines have been killed under Western Australia’s controversial new shark policy.

But no great whites have been among the 66 sharks caught in total – 23 in the South West and 43 in the metropolitan area.

Sixty-three were tiger sharks, two were mako and one was a blacktip shark.

The South West contractor has disposed of 13 tiger sharks over three metres in length, and released six smaller sharks since January 25.

We have caught and destroyed a number of large sharks.

Department of Fisheries crews at five metropolitan beaches have disposed of four tiger sharks since February 1, and released 34 – 28 of which were tagged to assist with research and shark tracking.

Nine sharks have also been found dead on WA drum lines.

The drum line initiative is part of a $23 million shark hazard mitigation program.

Under the policy, bull, tiger and great white sharks longer than three metres that are caught on drum lines within one kilometre of parts of the WA coast are being shot dead and discarded at sea.

Fisheries Minister Ken Baston said early results showed the methods were working well.

“We have caught and destroyed a number of large sharks within one kilometre of selected beaches, at a time of year when our beaches are crowded,” he said.

“This catch data proves there are a large number of big sharks near these beaches.”

Mr Baston said there had been no by-catch of other marine species.

“We believe the hook and bait systems we are using are successfully targeting larger sharks and not other fish species, and I commend the crews who have been diligent in releasing as many caught sharks as possible,” he said.

People are really concerned about animals being killed for no reason.

The Fisheries vessel used in metropolitan waters has been modified with a specially constructed ramp and sea water circulation system to ensure sharks smaller than three metres survived, he said.

Seventeen drum lines have been set at metropolitan beach sites and 20 at South West surf spots including Gracetown, Moses Rock and Yallingup.

Greens spokeswoman Lynn MacLaren told AAP the policy was clearly not working because no great white sharks had been caught and tiger sharks had not been responsible for any deaths in WA since the 1940s.

“Tiger sharks are not really a concern in WA waters,” she said.

“People are really concerned about animals being killed for no reason.

“This just indicates that our worst fears are being realised.

“It’s a massive number of sharks that have been caught and none of them are great whites.”

Ms MacLaren said there were still two more months to go in the trial, which meant there could be many more unnecessary shark deaths that could take an “irrational toll” on the ecosystem.

She supports WA Labor’s push for shark shields but said more shark research was also needed.

The University of Florida’s annual International Shark Attack File (ISAF) found the 10 shark attacks in Australian waters in 2013 were the lowest annual total since nine in 2008.

ISAF curator George Burgess slammed the WA government’s cull, labelling it an “archaic reaction” that could only be characterised as “revenge killings”.

Ms MacLaren said Burgess’ comments are another example of international condemnation for the cull and urged the state government to revoke the policy.

The Greens will hold a rally outside parliament house later on Tuesday.

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