Source: The Australian, Thursday, September 14, 1995, p.5


Call to protect great white shark

By science and technology writer JULIAN CRIBB and NATALIE O'BRIEN 
 
   THE fishing industry yester- 
day urged an end to the targeted 
fishing of great white sharks in 
Australian waters, despite the 
belief that a West Australian 
abalone diver was taken by one 
on Monday. 
 
   The chairman of the Australian 
Seafood Industry Council's 
environment committee Mr 
Duncan Leadbitter, said it was a 
tragic irony that fisherman David 
Weir was probably attacked and 
killed by a great white shark on 
the same day the industry 
launched its bid to conserve the 
giant predator. 
 
   Rescue volunteers found what 
were believed to be Weir's 
remains at remote Munglinup 
Beach about 7.40am yesterday 
morning. They were being flown 
to Perth last night for formal 
identification. 
 
   The ASIC has called for all 
States to end the deliberate 
catching of the great white 
shark, Carcharodon carcharias 
after indications its numbers 
were declining. 
 
   "Based on the biology of these 
species, a sustainable fishery for 
the great white is not possible," 
the ASIC chairman, Mr Brian 
Jeffriess, said. 
 
   The exact status of the shark 
was uncertain, but scientific and 
anecdotal accounts pointed to 
falling numbers and declining 
catches by sport fishermen. 
 
   Dr Barry Bruce of the CSIRO 
Division of Fisheries argued 
there was sufficient evidence to 
sustain pre-emptive protection 
of the shark, after the 
introduction of similar laws in 
South Africa and California. 
 
   White sharks are the largest of 
the predatory sharks, growing to 
6-7m and more than 2.5 tonnes 
in weight. Females take 10 to 12 
years to mature, produce 7 to 14 
live pups a litter and breed once 
every two years. This slow rate 
of reproduction made them 
particularly vulnerable to 
targeted fishing, Dr Bruce said. 
 
   The South Australian Fisheries 
Department has proposed to 
protect the great white shark in 
State waters. Mr Leadbitter 
welcomed the proposal. 
 
   "We believe there is abso- 
lutely no point in targeting the 
great white," he said. "By the 
time they've spawned once 
they're so full of mercury there's 
no point in eating them - and 
they tend to smash up your gear 
in any case." 
 
   Last night abalone divers in 
Hopetoun, near where Weir was 
taken, were preparing to go back 
into the water. 
 
   "The divers are going back to 
work. It may take a couple of 
days and they will probably start 
in shallow water until they get 
their confidence back," a 
deckhand, Mr Brian Mr Grant 
said. "But nothing will change."


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