07/05/2014 10:27 BST | Updated 07/05/2014 10:59 BST

Australia's Shark Cull Condemned By Animal Rights Groups Who Brand Policy 'Bad Ethics And Bad Science' (GRAPHIC PICTURES)

Animal rights activists have reacted furiously after hundreds of sharks were captured under a controversial cull policy in Australia.

Drum lines have been set up along seven Western Australian beaches as part of a widely condemned trial, capturing more than 170 sharks. So far, 50 of the biggest creatures have been killed.

Authorities have insisted the ongoing cull is necessary after six people were killed in shark attacks. But no great white sharks, to whom most of the attacks were attributed, have actually been caught.

Nevertheless, Australia's state government has called the cull a success and said it is restoring confidence among beachgoers. It is seeking to continue the programme for three more years.

But the animal rights group Peta told the Huffington Post UK the cull was "bad ethics and bad science."

The group added that the policy demonstrates that "the biggest predators are not in the ocean but on land, and they walk on two legs."

Various high-profile celebrities including Ricky Gervais have also given their support to the anti-cull message.

"Sharks have been around longer than dinosaurs, and they play an essential role in our oceans," Peta told Huff Post.

"Killing so many of these magnificent animals as a knee-jerk solution to prevent shark attacks is not only bad ethics but also bad science, which is why every respected marine expert disapproves of 'culling'.

The animal rights group said Australian taxpayers' money would be better spent on increased surveillance, shark tagging, the development of shark deterrents, more research and better public education about avoiding incidents between sharks and humans.

"Unlike humans, sharks live in the ocean. If we know an area of water has had shark attacks, instead of going on a killing spree, we should just stay out of their house."

Australia's Labor opposition fisheries spokesman, Dave Kelly, told the ABC the policy was far from successful.

"The policy is very unpopular, it has hardly caught any of the sharks it was destined to catch and the Government hasn't produced any scientific evidence to say the policy is working," he said.