Protests fail to sway Government on sharks

Skye Robinson (12) of North Beach.
Skye Robinson (12) of North Beach.

‘We remain committed to providing extra protection at some of the state’s main beaches,’ Fisheries Minister Ken Baston said.

Mr Baston repeated that the hooks 1km offshore were part of a $22 million ‘shark hazard mitigation strategy’ that included aerial patrols, research, tagging and a trial of a Coogee Beach enclosure, and cited one fatal attack since drum lines were deployed in parts of Queensland in 1962.

Responding to South-West community pressure and anecdotes of increased threat after the seventh fatal attack late last year, the State Government told the Fisheries Department to starts setting drum lines 1km off Fremantle, Cottesloe, Scarborough and northern suburbs’ beaches last Friday, when Premier Colin Barnett was in South Africa for a mining conference.

‘I suspect, though I could be wrong, that the setting of the lines yesterday was to remind people who the boss is, but the real bosses are the people of WA,’ protest organiser Natalie Banks said after she received a nomination for the Hero of the Oceans Award funded by Jaws author Peter Benchley.

The cull kills bull, tiger and great white sharks longer than 3m, after the Federal Government lifted international protection for the great white two weeks ago.

Former Shark Bay shark tourism operator Leon Deschamps told protesters each female great white was valued at $1.9 million a year to South African tourism, while Sea Shepherd director Jeff Hansen said the Federal Government decision showed politicians were prepared to exempt themselves from their own laws.

After crediting the State Government for increased shark surveillance, tagging and research, WA Opposition leader Mark McGowan said the $22 million mitigation strategy would be better spent preventing 46 people drowning, about 150 road deaths and about 200 suicides, which there were in WA last year ” while there had been only one shark attack.

Fisheries boats patrolled off Cottesloe during the onshore and offshore protest.

Until yesterday the catch included a tiger shark dumped dead 12km off Leighton Beach, a 2.3m tiger shark freed off Scarborough Beach and a 2.6m tiger shark released 1km off Cottesloe Beach.

However, a 4m shark photographed off Port Beach on Sunday could not be hooked.