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228 Sharks  Have Been Caught off the Coast of Queensland This Year

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Sharks are caught to 'protect' beach-goers from attack (file picture / Shutterstock)

According to a report in the Townsville Bulletin, a total of 228 sharks have so far been caught in 2017 along the Queensland coast.

The sharks have been caught as part of the State Government’s Shark Control program, allegedly installed to reduce the potential threat of attacks by sharks on humans.

The horrific figures come after a similar programme in Western Australia was halted in March this year by the newly elected WA state government, after a decision in 2014 to cull any shark over 3m in length, following seven fatal shark attacks over the previous three years.

According to the report, the species that have been caught including tiger sharks, bull sharks and hammerheads.

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The tiger shark is among the species caught by drum lines off the Queensland Coast (Shane Gross / Shutterstock)

Website sharkattackdata.com lists a total of five fatal shark attacks along the Queensland coast since the turn of the century, and 14 in Western Australia in the same time frame, although the death of a young female surfer in April 2017 off the coast of WA is not currently listed.

The policy of deliberately targeting large sharks has met with worldwide condemnation. Bull sharks and tiger sharks are currently listed as ‘near threatened’ by the IUCN, with great whites considered ‘vulnerable’ and great hammerheads classed as ‘endangered.’

Interviewed in the Townsville Bulletin, Andrew Chin, a researcher at the James Cook University Fisheries Department, said that there were 'more than 130 species of rays and sharks,' in the waters off the Queensland Coast and that 'most of them are not going to pose any threat to you.'

'We do have tigers and bull sharks and the reasons they are potentially harmful is because of their size,' said Dr Chin, but also adding, 'when I’m in the water, I’m far more worried about [crocodiles] and box jellyfish than sharks.'

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Bull sharks are listed by the IUCN as 'near threatened' (Shutterstock)

Globally, shark species are in decline and threatened, mostly by the continued trade in shark fins. The merits of culling sharks as a preventative measure against damaging interactions with humans are questionable. The fatal shark attacks that led to the Western Australia cull of 2014 were all deemed to be caused by great whites, however of the 170 sharks killed that year, none were great whites.

Dr Chin summed it up quite succinctly: 'Everything you do has risks and if you go swimming you could get stung, you could get bitten or you could hit your head on a sand bank. It's the ocean not a swimming pool, so the only way to eradicate the risk is to stay inside and play Xbox but then you will probably get RSI.'

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