Australia Will Now Kill Sharks on Sight Spate of attacks prompts controversial new policy on west coast By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Sep 27, 2012 6:54 PM CDT 38 comments Comments A great white cruises. (Shutterstock) (Newser) – Australia has seen a big increase in shark attacks in recent years, including a record five deaths in 2012—all of which is bad news for swimmers and now for sharks as well. The state of Western Australia has put into place an aggressive new policy to track and kill sharks spotted anywhere in the general vicinity of swimmers, reports the Australian. It's a major shift from previous policy, which allowed such hunts only after attacks. "We will always put the lives and safety of beachgoers ahead of the shark," said Premier Colin Barnett. "This is, after all, a fish—let's keep it in perspective." The change, along with Barnett's it's-just-a-fish remark, has conservation groups seething. One condemns it as a "guilty until proven innocent" policy. NBC News notes that as recently as March, after a fatal attack, Barnett rejected the idea of changing the policy: "The ocean is the domain of the shark and we go there with a risk always." The subsequent deaths ramped up political pressure to do something, however.