Western Australia has had five fatal great white shark attacks this year—five times the average number—and officials are under pressure to protect the beaches. So, in a very 1950s, Black December-esque move, a new policy has been put in place: Any shark that comes too close to the beach can—and likely will—be killed.
"We will always put the lives and safety of beachgoers ahead of the shark," Western Australia state Premier Colin Barnett told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. "This is, after all, a fish—let's keep it in perspective."
The new plan comes along with a nearly $7 million budget for larger “shark mitigation strategies,” such as installing shark nets and providing beaches with additional jet skis for patrol. And while conservation groups applaud the additional funding for research and safety, many are appalled by the pre-emptive kill policy, citing it as ineffective and a complete 180 from the government’s previous stance. Before, a shark could only be killed after it had attacked.
"We are concerned that plans to kill sharks that approach beaches applies a 'guilty until proven innocent' approach to sharks and is a knee-jerk reaction to public concern that will harm the environment without protecting swimmers," the Conservation Council of Western Australia’s marine coordinator Tim Nicol said in a statement.
Additional skeptics have cited that this move may be in violation of the federal government’s White Shark Recovery Plan while others contend that the slaughter could have unforeseen effects on the marine ecosystem.
But since Barnett did tell us to “keep it in perspective,” why don’t we? From Buzzfeed, 20 Things That Kill More People Than Sharks Every Year (even when you take into account this year’s rise).