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Sharks to be killed on sight in Western Australia


A Great White shark jumps out of the water as it hunts Cape fur seals near False Bay, on July 4, 2010.



Australian officials have approved a measure that will allow patrol boats to kill any shark they deem to be too close to swimmers.

Following five attacks this year, a record for shark attacks in Australia, Premier Colin Barnett told ABC Radio Australia, "We will always put the lives and safety of beach goers ahead of the shark. This is, after all, a fish — let's keep it in perspective."

This appears to be a swift change of heart for Barnett, who, following an attack earlier this year, said, "The ocean is the domain of the shark and we go there with a risk always." 

The new strategy of preemptively hunting and killing sharks will include increased patrol by aircraft and water patrol, according to NBC. The new "shark mitigation strategy" will cost $7.2 million.

Great white sharks will also be fair game. Great whites are a protected species in Australian waters, but the new policy would allow fisheries department officials to kill any great whites that present an imminent threat to people, according to Reuters. 

But not everyone is happy to see the shark mitigation put in place. 

The Conservation Council of Western Australia said they support the increase in funding for patrol and research, but are extremely displeased with the idea of killing sharks.

The council's marine coordinator Tim Nicol said in a statement, "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."