Let us kill great whites, says Western Australia as protected species claims its fifth victim



Western Australia called on the federal government yesterday to lift a ban on the fishing of great white sharks following an unprecedented fifth death in its waters within less than a year.

Speaking after a 24 year old surfer, Ben Linden, was bitten in half by a "massive" shark on Saturday, the state's Fisheries Minister, Norman Moore, said the spate of fatal attacks was "cause for great alarm". He added that he was "open to any suggestions from anybody as to where we go to now, because we seriously have got a problem".

The killing of Mr Linden, who was paddling his board near remote Wedge Island, 100 miles north of Perth, has cemented the west coast's reputation as the world's deadliest shark attack zone. A hunt for the fish that killed him, believed to be up to 16 feet long, was called off yesterday afternoon. Ministers had ordered any shark of that size to be killed on sight.

A jet-skier who witnessed the attack and tried to retrieve Mr Linden's remains said the shark went for him. "By the time I got out there, half of him had been taken and the shark was circling," Matt Holmes, 22, told the Australian TV channel ABC. "There was blood everywhere. I reached to grab the body … but as I did that, the shark came back and nudged the jet-ski to try to knock me off."

After looping around, Mr Holmes returned to the scene. "I just thought about his family and if he had kids," he said. "I just wanted to get him to shore. [But] when I came back the second time, it took the rest of him." The shark - which other surfers had noticed over the previous four days and nicknamed "Brutus" because of its size - was last seen heading out to deeper waters.

Warning that the attacks were harming the state's tourism industry, Mr Moore said he would lobby Canberra to lift the ban on commercial and recreational fishing of great whites. Anecdotal evidence suggested that their numbers had recovered significantly since they became a protected species in Australia in the 1990s, he said, adding that the government would not sanction shark hunts or culls.

In Australia as a whole, an average of one person a year is killed by sharks. However, the spike in attacks is probably the result of human population growth and the increasing popularity of water sports in isolated locations, rather than a rise in shark numbers, according to Martin Garwood, a senior aquarist at the Sydney Aquarium.

The government's response to the latest attack was condemned by Janita Enevoldsen of the Wilderness Society, who said: "We need to really understand them [the sharks], and not resort to the Neanderthal reaction of a hunt and kill."

Mr Moore agreed that more research was needed to plot the sharks' migration and feeding habits. An acoustic tagging programme introduced by the WA government last year - the first of its kind in the world - has revealed that they sometimes linger for months off the west coast. "We have allocated some A$14m [£9.2m] … to get a better understanding of the great white sharks and the reasons why fatalities are occurring," the minister said. "I wonder if research might tell us that there are now much greater numbers of great whites than ever before."

Mr Linden's remains have not been found, despite police and volunteers scouring local beaches. His long-time girlfriend, Alana Noakes, wrote on his Facebook page that "surfing was his soul, his life, his culture and his passion".

Jaws Returns: The Death Toll

4 September 2011: Kyle Burden, 21, attacked while bodyboarding at Bunker Bay, south of Perth.

10 October: Bryn Martin, 64, disappears during daily swim at Cottesloe Beach, Perth. Only his swimming trunks were found.

22 October: US diver George Wainwright, 32, fatally mauled off Rottnest Island, near Perth.

31 March 2012: Peter Kurmann, 33, killed while diving near Busselton, in  south-west Western Australia.

15 July: Ben Linden, 24, is bitten in half while paddling his surfboard at Wedge Island, Perth.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy as ECB finally wield the axe
Life and Style
food + drink
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959
voicesWard committed no crime, and the truth is still being covered up, writes Geoffrey Robertson QC
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
Life and Style
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas