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Shark hunters in WA World Heritage waters

AAP logoAAP 4/11/2016 Rebecca Gredley

Trophy hunters are targeting tiger sharks in a World Heritage area off Western Australia.

Despite the Shark Bay marine park in WA's Gascoyne region being on the UNESCO list since 1991, shark fishing is not illegal there and a rising number of people are catching the animals for 'shark-selfies'.

Founder of the Shark Ark project Leon Deschamps is pushing for shark fishing to be illegal in the area, as it is in metropolitan and South West regions of the state.

In Perth, Cottesloe Shire used by-laws to make shark fishing illegal, arguing blood in the water could cause humans to be attacked.

Mr Deschamps said social media made the practice of trophy hunting popular and the sharks often died after being released.

"The social media 'likes' are driving this, which is why it's such a new phenomenon," he told AAP.

"They (sharks) don't have a single bone in their body, sitting on them is doing serious damage and they're swimming away dying."

Some shark species have an 80-90 per cent post-release death rate, he said.

Sharks with their fins cut off have also been found on beaches, highlighting the risk of people hunting them for the black market fin trade.

The south coast of WA has also become a political hotbed following the commonwealth marine reserves review.

The review recommended large cutbacks to marine protection including removing sanctuary status at Bremer Bay, which is a Southern Right Whale nursery and at Perth Canyon off Rottnest Island, which is a Blue Whale feeding ground.

According to the Conservation Council of WA, more than 50,000 parties responded to the review, calling for the protection of key whale habitats.

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