The internet was abuzz as photos of a huge, four-metre tiger shark has reportedly been caught off the coast of Nine Mile Beach in Byron Bay, in the northernmost corner of New South Wales.
The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is not investigating this incident, as no illegal activity has occurred,” a spokesman for Positive Change for Marine Lifetold the press. While classified as ‘near threatened’, tiger sharks are not an endangered species, and commercial fishing of them is still legal in certain areas off the coast of New South Wales and Queensland.
Someone has since come forward to claim the kill – a fisherman named Matthew- who told local paper The Northern Star that it happened three weeks ago in the area described by the Facebook sources. He was reportedly trying to catch a hammerhead shark when the much larger tiger shark grabbed it and ate it right in front of him.
I was fighting the hammerhead and he came up and swallowed it. You can’t turn around and go no, don’t touch, to something like that. I’ve dived with sharks bigger than that, it’s only a little one. I’ve seen tiger sharks 24-feet-long (7 metres) off Tweed,” he said, adding that this was a relatively small tiger shark.
On the other hand, the Positive Change for Marine Life spokesman Karl Goodsell told Fairfax Media that while this was not an illegal catch, an alarming amount of sharks are caught around this area and if not regulated better, it could see several species threatened:
“Fishermen between northern NSW and Cape York take around 78,000 to 100,000 sharks a year, some within the Great Barrier Reef and some of the species taken include … critically endangered scalloped hammerhead and the protected great white. We don’t see any point in pursuing the fisherman; it’s not their fault for doing their jobs. The problem comes from the government who allow these fisheries to exist for protected and endangered species.”
— OCEARCH (@OCEARCH) August 10, 2015
The news of the tiger shark’s capture has coincided with talks regarding the systematic culling of sharks in the area.” At a community meeting on Monday night, almost 200 surfers voted for a partial cull of sharks following an unprecedented number of attacks and sightings,” Rachel Olding reports for The Sydney Morning Herald.
Whatever happens, we hope scientists are involved in the decision-making process and their expertise is heard. The last thing we want is for any species of shark to become extinct just because it would be more convenient for us to have safer oceans to swim in.