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

Date
1994-04
Authors
Wetherbee, Bradley M.
Lowe, Christopher G.
Crow, Gerald L.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Publisher
University of Hawaii Press
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.
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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.
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