Western Australia: Include Sharks in Animal Welfare Legislation

  • by: Judith B.
  • recipient: Norman Moore, Fisheries Minister, Parliament of Western Australia

The recent “spate” of shark attacks, actually a handful, in Australia and the subsequent demonisation of the creatures led to a horrific incident in Western Australia. A group of  vigilantes decided to not only catch and kill a whaler shark but also to torture it to death, gutting the animal while it was still alive.

The cruelty couldn’t be prosecuted because not only is the species not protected in that particular area but fish are specifically excluded from Western Australian animal welfare legislation. In other words, it is legal to torture them. Cruelty to any other vertebrate and some invertebrates carries a $2,000 fine.

All vertebrates have feelings, varying levels of awareness and acute capacity for pain. Sharks are not robots – they are sentient beings and should be legally recognised as such. A legal loophole that gives sharks no more welfare protection than wheat must be closed.

Ask the state government to amend existing animal welfare legislation to include fish.

We the undersigned ask that you include all vertebrates in existing legislation to prevent undue cruelty to animals. All these creatures have highly advanced brains and a capacity for pain that means torture is just that. It is unjustifiable that the Animal Welfare Act of 2002 prohibits gross cruelty to all other non-human vertebrates and some invertebrates but specifically excludes fish.

The highly publicised incident of a whaler shark, and it seems others, being tortured has brought to light a huge gap in Western Australia’s existing animal welfare legislation and we ask that you remedy this immediately.

Thank you for your attention.

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