When I first started diving here in Esperance (Southern Ocean, 700 km South of Perth, Western Australia) ten years ago, using a shark shield would have been unthinkable and we were inundated with divers from across the rest of the country, meaning plenty of arses on the local dive charters.
Fast forward to 2018 and I alone (from a regular group of 8 buddies) dive without a shark shield. I can't remember the last time the LDS had enough warm bodies to charter a dive trip and that's despite having the Sanko Harvest (brilliant wreck - well worth a Google) off our coastline.
Our LDS continues to provide a good service to the local divers but probably only due to the fact they were clever enough to diversify into tourist accom and fishing charters. I doubt they would survive on the strength of the dive industry alone.
In 2006, a 15 year old surfer lost his right leg to a white at a beach 60 km's from the Esperance town site.
In 2015, a 23 year old surfer lost his left arm and both hands in a white attack at a beach 20 km's from Esperance.
In 2017 a 17 year old surfer lost her life to a white at the same spot as above.
In the last decade, there have been 36 shark attacks along the West Australian coastline, 10 fatal.
I have seen 4 good sized bronze whalers in Esperance in my ten years diving here. None of them were threatening. All of them have been seen in the last 24 months however. Anecdotally at least, shark numbers appear to be increasing.
I don't support the culling of sharks. I don't support the use of so-called smart drum lines but in a country with a 36 735 km coastline that has had 18 shark attacks in 2017 (only the one fatal here in Esperance), you can hardly blame the government for trying to reassure the thousands of tourists who come to see the GBR, Ningaloo Reef and the thousands of beautiful beaches.
As Huw stated above, many Australians are totally opposed to the culling of sharks. The current problem being that at present, the politicians seem to think they need to be seen doing something and they lack a better option.
Perhaps the info above goes some way to showing why Aussies have a slightly different perspective towards sharks than Europeans however.
The common theme seems to be surfing - dangerous sport ban it