Surfers' deaths prompt shark cull debate

The deaths of two Australian surfers in the space of a week has prompted a debate over culling sharks.

Australians visit the beach an estimated 100 million times every year, but it's a love affair that can be dangerous.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Surf Life Savers in Canberra today that under the wrong circumstances the beach isn't a safe place.

“We should spare a thought today for Zac Young, the surfer who tragically perished near Coffs Harbour over the weekend,” Mr Abbott said.

“We grieve for him and we salute the courage of his mates who brought him in.”

Zac Young, 19, was bitten by a three-metre tiger shark when body boarding with friends.

“Tiger sharks are one of the top three predatory sharks. They have been known to cause injury in humans,” shark biologist Dr Amy Smoothey said.

Zac Young's death follows a fatal shark attack at Gracetown in Western Australia last weekend.

Thirty-five-year-old Chris Boyd is suspected to have been killed by a great white.

The West Australian government is considering changing the laws so sharks can be killed near popular beaches.

The Federal Environment Minister says the Commonwealth is happy to work with the states.

“I am keen and we are keen to work with any state governments in whatever way will help explain why there's been an increase in the number of attacks and secondly to understand what if anything can be done to reduce the risks to humans.,” Environment Minister Greg Hunt.

But one expert says killing individual sharks won't solve the problem.

And he says a cull of thousands of sharks has been rejected by people around the world.

“Culling is a political tool that's used and that's brought up following these tragedies to provide emotional relief and show the government is acting and they're active but the evidence shows that culling doesn't work,” says Christopher Neff from the University of Sydney.

Christopher Neff says there's simply no way to shark-proof the country.

Source: SBS

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