A government survey in Australia has found an estimated 2,250 adult great white sharks are roaming off Western Australia's beaches. The survey will be used to raise demands for aggressive measures in order to protect swimmers and surfers.
The study by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation supports evidence by local fishermen and surfers that the great white population has increased. It is the first study in decades to estimate the shark population in Australia.
According to The Times, there have been at least 15 fatal attacks in Western Australian waters over the last 17 years, more than double as many as off the east coast.
Josh Frydenberg, the national environment minister who ordered the study, has used the results to demand more aggressive measures like using nets and baited hooks near popular beaches.
According to the Times, he noted that nets have been used for decades off beaches in the east coast.
Queensland has had a shark-control programme involving baited lines and nets since 1962, while New South Wales has used mesh nets at more than 50 beaches. Only one shark-related fatality has occurred in Queensland since its shark-control programme was put in place and no fatalities have been reported in New South Wales' protected beaches since 1951.
However, the West Australia government ceased to use baited hooks in 2015 following outcry from environmentalists. It has refused to install nets since then and has instead funded a subsidy for personal electronic shark deterrent devices.
Though great white sharks are a protected species, fishermen in Esperance, 450 miles south of Perth, have launched illegal missions to kill off any that come close to beaches. A 17-year-old girl, named Laeticia Brouwer, was killed by a great white shark in Esperance in April in front of her family.