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CANBERRA (Reuters) - Authorities will hunt and kill great white sharks which pose a threat to swimmers along Australia's western Indian Ocean coastline under a new plan to protect beachgoers after five deadly attacks in the past year.

Great white sharks have been a protected species in Australian waters for more than a decade, but the latest spate of great white attacks at Western Australian beaches have prompted the government to allow pre-emptive hunts.

"We will always put the lives and safety of beachgoers ahead of the shark," Western Australian state Premier Colin Barnett told reporters.

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