Last updated: October 26, 2011

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Western Australia

Scientists lead call to end shark hunt

George Wainwright

CULL: A controversial shark shoot-to-kill order is in place following the fatal white pointer attack on George `Thomas' Wainwright off Rottnest Island on the weekend. Picture: Supplied Source: PerthNow

MARINE scientists hope to take their anti-shark cull protest to the WA Parliament.

Shark biologist Ryan Kempster said they had received overwhelming public support for an online petition urging the WA Government not to cull sharks, with more than 8,500 people backing the cause in just seven days.

Some of Australia's and the world's top shark experts have signed a 118-signature academic petition which has already been sent to the premier Colin Barnett, Fisheries Minister Norman Moore, Environment minister William Marmion, Perth Lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi and Cottesloe mayor Kevin Morgan.

Mr Kempster said they were in talks with an unnamed local MP who they hoped would present the petition to the WA Parliament.

``We hope the petition will be tabled in Parliament,'' Mr Kempster said.

``We've had overwhelming support from the public. Every day we are getting two or three thousand more.

``We think the issue needs to be discussed there.''

Signatories to the academic petition included shark experts John West, the curator of the Australian Shark Attack File at the Taronga Conservation Society in Sydney and George Burgess, who is the author of books on sharks, heads the International Shark Attack File and is a fisheries biologist with the Florida Museum of Natural History in the US.

The Shark Attack Files record shark attacks around the world.

The petitions urge the government not to kill sharks, saying a cull would be disastrous to Australia's marine environment and also the country's reputation as a leader in marine conservation.

WA surfers were lobbying government ministers for shark culling in the wake of recent sightings and three fatal attacks within two months.

And the WA government issued a shoot-to-kill order for any great white shark that poses a threat to human life following the most recent death of Texan George `Thomas' Wainwright off Rottnest Island on the weekend.

Mr Kempster said he believed the attacks were a tragic coincidence.

``Some years you may have no attacks and other years you may have three or four, but it averages out to about one a year,'' he said.

``People have questioned whether shark numbers are increasing but there is no data to suggest that.

``At this time of the year there may be more white sharks present in this region. We need to know more about where they are moving and at what times of the year so we can then work on future protection measures.''


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