Shark attack survivor slams 'stupid' shark cull

A navy clearance diver who lost a leg and a forearm in a shark attack has come out against the Western Australian shark cull, describing it as "stupid" and a "knee-jerk reaction".

Paul de Gelder was on exercises in Sydney Harbour in 2009 when he was attacked by a bull shark that bit off his arm and leg. Since then he has had to use specially made prosthetics.

But despite his experience, Mr de Gelder, originally of Canberra, said he was completely against Premier Colin Barnett's proposed shark cull, spelling out his opposition in a blog post on Wednesday morning.

"[It's] a knee jerk reaction for the government that is pushing this ridiculous bait-lining. That is one of the stupidest solutions they could have come up with to try and kill sharks three metres and over," he told Fairfax Media.

"They’ve made it look like, okay, nothing bigger than a three metre shark could grab that hook but that's not true, that’s definitely not true."

The West Australian government announced late last year it would be culling large sharks that came within one kilometre of selected beaches, after seven fatal shark attacks in three years in WA waters.

Professional fishermen would be paid to catch, shoot or bait sharks onto large hooks within designated kill zones off the coast.

The government is yet to contract out the culling work, despite a deadline passing on January 10.

Mr de Gelder, who has previously spoken up in defence of sharks, said that although his heart went out to the families and friends of shark attack victims, the government's plan was ecologically wasteful and dangerous.

"They're not our sharks to kill and they're definitely not [West Australian Premier] Colin Barnett's sharks to kill. It's a natural predator, an apex predator, it's essential to the ecosystem of the ocean," he said.

"It's a wild animal and you want to kill it for doing what it does."

He wrote on his blog, Improvise, Adapt and Overcome, that the ecological damage that could be done by removing an important part of the ecosystem could not be calculated.

"Study and history has shown that removing an apex predator from an ecosystem will systematically affect the whole balance, perhaps creating an over or under abundance of other life lower down the food chain, further disrupting the food chains below them and guess where all this disrupting ripple effect leads to...  us!" he wrote.

Mr de Gelder said shark attacks had not increased in number or frequency; it was just that the information was more available in the age of the internet.

As a shark attack victim, he knew how bad an attack could be, but he said that was part of the risk of heading into the Australian ocean.

He said you could not absolutely protect people.

"It’s an absolute risk. That is the ocean, it is the wild. There’s not always going to be 100 per cent chance that if you go in, you’ll come out. And that’s evident in all the drownings, why isn’t more being done to stop drowning?" he said.

Mr de Gelder said Australians were banding together in opposition to the West Australian shark culls, including rallies in Western Australia and New South Wales.

"What Colin Barnett needs to do is that he needs to listen to his constituents, listen to scientists and listen to the world who are shaking their head in disgust that we would wipe out a protected animal for doing what it does in nature" he said.

"We don’t want to be the generation who wipe them out so we have to take our kids to museums to see these amazing animals."

The story Shark attack survivor slams 'stupid' shark cull first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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