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A Review of Shark Control in Hawaii with Recommendations for Future Research

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Title:A Review of Shark Control in Hawaii with Recommendations for Future Research
Authors:Wetherbee, Bradley M.
Lowe, Christopher G.
Crow, Gerald L.
Date Issued:Apr 1994
Publisher:University of Hawaii Press
Citation:Wetherbee BM, Lowe CG, Crow GL. 1994. A review of shark control in Hawaii with recommendations for future research. Pac Sci 48(2): 95-115.
Abstract:In an attempt to allay public fears and to reduce the risk of shark
attack, the state government of Hawaii spent over $300,000 on shark control
programs between 1959 and 1976. Six control programs of various intensity
resulted in the killing of 4,668 sharks at an average cost of $182 per shark.
The programs furnished information on diet, reproduction, and distribution of
sharks in Hawaii, but research efforts of the programs had a number of shortcomings.
Analysis of the biological data gathered was not directed toward
the tiger shark, Galeocerdo cuvier (Peron & LeSueur), which is responsible for
most attacks in Hawaii. Reliable estimates of shark populations in Hawaii
cannot be made based on catch data from control programs because of sampling
biases. Most of the information gained from the control programs was not
published in reviewed journals and is not readily available to the scientific
community. The ability of the control programs to reduce shark populations
and to remove large sharks from coastal waters appears to have been stated with
more confidence than is warranted, considering seasonal changes observed in
shark abundance and variable fishing effort. Shark control programs do not
appear to have had measurable effects on the rate of shark attacks in Hawaiian
waters. Implementation of large-scale control programs in the future in Hawaii
may not be appropriate. Increased understanding of the behavior and biology
of target species is necessary for evaluation of the effectiveness of small-scale
control efforts, such as selective fishing after an attack. Acoustic telemetry,
conventional tagging, and studies on population dynamics concentrating primarily
on the tiger shark may be used to obtain data about activity patterns,
distribution, and population parameters, providing information useful for reducing
the risk of shark attack in Hawaii and elsewhere.
Appears in Collections: Pacific Science Volume 48, Number 2, 1994

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