A NORTHERN Rivers woman says her husband was forced to kill a shark with a sledgehammer after someone hacked off its fins and left it to die in a ‘cruel and unnecessary’ act.
Sarah Moerman, of Iluka, was walking with a friend and their young children, aged five and four, when they came across the two-metre bull shark in the Clarence River on Tuesday afternoon.
At first they thought it was a log.
But they soon realised it was a shark with all its fins hacked off.
“It was still alive and had been left to die a horrific death,” Ms Moerman said.
“It was very distressing to see its suffering. This shark needed to be put out of it misery, and as far as I was concerned it was a danger to anyone who came close. It still had teeth.”
Ms Moerman reported the shark to the coastguard and then called the ranger.
Eventually she rang the Clarence Valley Council’s after-hours number and was told to call the police.
Ms Moerman said Grafton police told her to ‘take a large rock to the beach and drop it on its (the shark’s) head’.
“How barbaric. That would never happen if it was a dolphin,” she said.
“We were all very distressed at the thoughtless butchering and the pain the shark had to endure.
“After an hour of getting nowhere my husband, witnessing my distress, offered to put the poor shark out of it misery, so he took a sledgehammer and, well, took care of it.
“I was appalled at the indifference to this animal’s suffering.
“An animal is an animal and this one needed human help because of what some humans had inflicted upon it.”
Professional shark fisherman Bill Litchfield, of Broadwater, said hacking off a shark’s fins was illegal.
“This was obviously done by a ‘shamateur’,” he said.
“Professional shark fishermen would never do something like this. We would automatically lose our licence and those are worth six-figure sums. We wouldn’t risk it for $70 worth of fins.
“Whoever has done this has done it illegally. I would love to catch them.
“I don’t condone this sort of thing. The problem is that it’s very easy to sell shark fins.
“But professionals simply cannot, and do not, remove the fins of sharks at sea and dump the bodies. It’s just not on.”
Southern Cross University shark expert Danny Bucher said hacking off a shark’s fins was cruel.
But he said the problem was generally more common overseas than in Australia.
“This particular incident could have been a poacher, or it could have simply been an accident,” Dr Bucher said.
“It’s debatable whether the problem is getting worse or not.”