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Australian Government Institutes Shark Tagging Campaign to Reduce Attacks

Aug 19, 2015 03:03 PM EDT
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In response to recent shark attacks, the Australian government has launched a $250,000 campaign to increase surveillance and shark tagging in advance of warmer spring and summer conditions that will likely draw out more human swimmers.

"I am acutely aware of the concerns of communities on the North Coast following a spate of recent shark attacks -- we want to make sure we do everything we can to help keep swimmers and surfers safe in our waters," Niall Blair, the country's Minister for Primary Industries, said in a statement. "Let's not forget the ocean is the domain of the shark, however, this Government is taking action to gain a better understanding of the local risks and how they can be reduced to help inform and protect the public."

The Department of Primary Industries has world-renowned shark experts who will be temporarily based on the North Coast to lead this campaign. According to the release, scientifically sound research will be conducted, in order to better understand shark populations and their interactions with humans.

"The campaign will involve on-water surveillance by experts as well as a targeted research program up and down the North Coast, which will involve tagging and tracking of local sharks, and significant investment in educating the public to be SharkSmart," said Chris Gulaptis, Parliamentary Secretary for the North Coast, in the release.

Previously, government officials had refused a request for shark culling--the practice of killing large sharks in the vicinity of swimming beaches. Marine biologists and conservationists consider the practice to be ineffective and harmful to federally protected sharks.

"Indiscriminately culling sharks is dangerous to marine ecosystems, not to mention expensive and futile. We would be far better off allocating resources to achieving a greater understanding of the ecology and behaviour of these large predators," Jane Williamson, Macquarie University Associate Professor in Marine Ecology explained, in her post published recently on the academic-discussion website The Conversation

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