A new strategy to reduce fatal shark attacks is being implemented in Western Australia with baits being set and killing zones designated near popular beaches.
The State Government is creating zones along beaches in Perth and the south-west where sharks will be considered an imminent threat, and killed.
The measures follow six fatal attacks by sharks in WA in two years.
Fisheries Minister Troy Buswell outlined how drum lines will be set up one kilometre from the shores of the designated areas.
He says commercial fishers will be hired to catch and kill sharks bigger than three metres which enter the zones.
“The drum lines should be effective in catching sharks and it’s my view if we’re catching sharks that are, or are about to be in close proximity to beaches, then by extension we’re making those beaches safer,” he said.
Protesters call for sharks to be respected and protected
Mr Buswell rejected suggestions it is a culling policy.
But shark policy expert Christopher Neff of University of Sydney is adamant it is culling.
And he also says there is no evidence to suggest baited hook lines actually improve the safety of beaches.
“I think it’s an unfortunate policy,” he said.
“This is a culling tool that is used to kill sharks and reduce populations, that is by definition culling.”
A small but passionate group protested against the tougher policies at State Parliament.
The president of the Western Australians for Shark Conservation, Ross Weir, says sharks should not be killed.
“It has been proven that taking individual great white sharks has a detrimental effect, and a serious effect, on this endangered species,” he said.
Sea Shepherd’s Australian director Jeff Hansen says his group will be checking the legalities around the protected species.
“The reality is an ocean without sharks is a planet without people. We need sharks for our survival and we need to give them the respect they deserve.”Jeff Hansen
He says great whites are a vulnerable and endangered species.
“The reality is an ocean without sharks is a planet without people,” he said.
“We need sharks for our survival and we need to give them the respect they deserve for our kids and their kids.”
Strategy aims to minimise risk, not remove it
The latest death occurred when surfer Chris Boyd was attacked at Gracetown in the state’s south-west last month.
Tom Innes, a committee member of the Margaret River Boardrider Club, said at the time that reducing the number of bigger sharks will reduce the risk of further attacks.
“I think it’s undeniable, the facts are there that sharks are increasing in numbers, they’re attacking more people than they used to, there’s obviously more sharks in the water and more aggressive larger sharks that feed on mammals and large prey out there,” he said.
“So in order to reduce the risk of further attacks I think these larger sharks need to be reduced in number.”
Premier Colin Barnett says the new measures will improve public safety.
“These new initiatives come on top of a raft of measures like increased aerial surveillance, beach patrols, shark tagging and a trial of a shark enclosure in the south-west,” he said.
“We are aware of the risks sharks pose to our beach users and we are implementing strategies to reduce these risks.
“But whatever the State Government does to try to minimise the risk there are still no guarantees.
“It is very important for [people] to always be aware of the risks of entering the water and to take responsibility for themselves.”
The metro zone will stretch from Quinn’s in the north to Warnbro in the south, while the south-west zone will cover Forrest Beach to Prevelly near Margaret River.
The WA Government has allocated more than $20 million over four years to 2015-16 for shark hazard mitigation strategies.
The Federal Government has been consulted about the measures as great white sharks are a protected species.