A group of shark conservationists has called for more
research on a potential link between attacks on humans and
dead sheep thrown into the ocean by the live export trade.
Western Australians for Shark Conservation (WASC) is trying
to revive debate on the issue, which was raised by Humane
Society International in July after an unprecedented spate of
fatal great white shark attacks in the state's waters.
The theory was swiftly shot down by the Australian Livestock
Export Council, which said carcasses had to be disposed of at
least 20 nautical miles away from the nearest land.
On Monday, WASC said the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries
and Forestry had too swiftly dismissed the theory, although
internal emails between department staff showed some believed
it was worth investigating.
WASC said it did not seek to create hysteria among the
ocean-going public and acknowledged the issue was sensitive
as animal rights activists called for an end to live exports
in the wake of a cruel cull of Australian sheep in Pakistan.
"We need to understand what we may be doing wrong, such as
chumming the waters via live export vessels, and go to every
endeavour to research our shark population so that we may
learn what we can do as visitors to the ocean to be as safe
as possible," WASC spokeswoman Melissa Smith said.
Department of Fisheries supervising scientist Brett Molony
told AAP earlier this year that there was no scientific
evidence to suggest there was a link between great white
sharks attacks and the presence of live export vessels.
"While we cannot dismiss the possibility that some species of
shark may follow these vessels, or be more common around
them, it's unlikely that white sharks would be attracted to
these vessels," Dr Moloney said.
"It's more likely that oceanic pelagic (surface-dwelling)
shark species, such as oceanic white tips and blue sharks,
could follow these vessels.
"However, there are no records of attacks by these species,
or sightings of them, in coastal WA."