17th December 2018
Despite a recent flood of shark attacks across the country, there has been a significant decrease in shark populations off the east coast of Australia.
Over the past 55 years, it is estimated that shark populations have dropped by 92 per cent, with hammerheads and great whites suffering from the biggest decrease.
While many Australian's fear sharks and support the processes of shark culling, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dr George Roff from the University of Queensland, is urging the government to provide funding for shark population research.
"I understand the fear from the general public behind sharks… but I would like to see the government invest more money into the science of shark popoulations on the coastlines and shark interactions.
"Human saety is important, human shark attacks are tragic events and the loss of human life should come first.
"We can have sharks populating our beaches and keep our beaches safe for people," Dr Roff said.
Dr Roff is encouraging the Queensland government to implement underwater technology such as sonar devices to scare sharks away as well as drones to monitor their movements. These technologies are currently being trialled in New South Wales and are proving effective.
Shark researchers at currently are unable to determine what exactly is causing the extreme drops in populations, however they believe it is related to overfishing.
Whatever the cause, researchers are insisting that action be taken soon rather than later to conserve shark populations for the future.
"Sharks play a critical role in ecosystems, they sit at the top of the food web," Dr Roff said.
"We can conserve this important species that has been around for millions of years and that has survived the extinction of dinosaurs - it would be really tragic if we lost them now because of preventable human causes"