The scheme aims to kill white, bull and tiger sharks over three metres long that swim within 1km of popular beaches.

The first shark was killed by a government-contracted commercial fisherman on Sunday morning off Castle Rock near the town of Dunsborough, 250km south of Perth.

The policy has been put in place after a recent spate of shark-related deaths in Australia’s southwest. It has divided the community and led to thousands of people demonstrating on Perth beaches against the cull.

Environmentalists argue that there is no evidence that it will reduce shark attacks and say it could even increase shark danger.

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