Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Western Australia's shark cull faces legal challenge from conservationists

Opponents claim the plan to bait and kill sharks could breach state and federal laws, as well as international agreements

theguardian.com, Monday 20 January 2014 07.34 GMT

The Greens and animal welfare groups are formulating a legal challenge to the Western Australian government’s shark cull, claiming the move would fall foul of state, federal and international obligations.

Lawyers for a loose-knit coalition of groups, including the Greens, the Conservation Council and Western Australians for Shark Conservation, are looking at whether the plan to trap and kill large sharks is legally possible.

At a state level, the cull policy could run contrary to the Wildlife Conservation Act of 1950, as well as the Fish Resource Management Act of 1994.

Federally, the environment minister, Greg Hunt, has to exempt WA from the strictures of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act for the cull to proceed. The act requires a federal assessment to be made when endangered creatures – such as great white sharks – are placed at risk.

A federal department of environment spokesman said: “The Western Australian government has not referred the project, however an exemption has been requested. The minister’s decision will be announced in due course.”

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