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Western Australia Sets Baits as Protesters Condemn Shark Cull

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Feb. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Western Australia has started setting baited hooks off Perth’s beaches and will kill sharks deemed to pose a threat to swimmers as protesters condemn the catch-and-destroy program.

Hooks known as drum lines were deployed yesterday at five locations off Perth, the state capital, the premier’s office said today in an e-mail. The species deemed a threat are white, bull and tiger sharks, which will be killed if they are more than 3 meters in length, according to a Dec. 27 statement from Premier Colin Barnett and Fisheries Minister Ken Baston.

Billionaire Richard Branson said the shark cull program will deter visitors to the state rather than encourage tourism, according to an interview on Fairfax radio yesterday. There have been seven fatal attacks in Western Australia the past three years, the most recent in November at Gracetown, about 269 kilometers south of Perth.

“This is appalling, cruel and illogical marine policy,” Christine Milne, the leader of Australia’s Greens party, said in an e-mailed statement. “The Premier should admit he was wrong and end the cull immediately,” she told a protest at Cottesloe beach in Perth today, according to the statement.

Drum lines are set about 1 kilometer from the beach and will be deployed from January to April, according to the Dec. 27 statement. The baited hooks are also being used at three locations in the state’s southwest, the statement says.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Sharples in Melbourne at bsharples@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stanley James at sjames8@bloomberg.net