Blood in the water: surfers at Trigg Beach claim fishermen are putting lives at risk

Trigg Beach.
Trigg Beach.

THE City of Stirling has taken action against fishermen at Trigg Beach who surfers say are putting them at risk of shark attack.

Angry surfers have confronted fishermen after seeing bloody fish offal thrown into the water to attract fish where they paddle out.

Outgoing Trigg Point Boardriders president Kerry Whitford has called for fishermen to be banned from the surf break while surfers are there.

The City reacted to complaints by warning fishermen they would be fined $125 if they continued throwing offal into the water from the beach, with one fisherman warned as recently as last Thursday.

Stirling Beach Services co-|ordinator John Snook said beach inspector vehicle patrols had increased to 6am to 6pm to watch what was happening on the beach.

The Stirling Times understands that a few years ago a baited hook was found on a buoy just off the beach, which caught a shark that had to be released by a Department of Fisheries boat.

Trigg Beach was closed last Tuesday when a 2.5m shark was spotted by the Surf Life Saving WA helicopter close to shore.

Trigg surfer Glen Buckey said he was charged at by a suspected great white shark in the same spot last month and has called for an immediate ban on fishermen.

“There are obviously more sharks around and it’s ridiculous to have fishermen bringing them in, especially after the two fatal shark attacks in June,” Mr Buckey said.

Bill Gilbert said he saw a fisherman hooking a young surfer in the arm at Trigg, then a confrontation between the fisherman and the surfer’s father when an ambulance had to be called.

“They had to remove the hook and then the police arrived,” he said.

“It wasn’t good.”

Senior Trigg Point Boardriders member Brad Porteous said he was so upset at having to paddle out through fish |heads thrown out by two fishermen in July that he confronted them.

“They both told me to f… off even though I pointed out there had been two fatal shark attacks a couple of weeks earlier,” he said.

“One of them had a knife and I was so angry that I wrote to Fisheries Minister Joe Francis, who replied that it’s illegal to throw fish offal into the water.

“The Minister said it was up to the City of Stirling to enforce.

“We need to get on top of it immediately – we’re trying to save people from shark attack, and they’re still throwing blood and guts into the water near us.”

A Recfishwest spokesman said fishing was one of the most common pastimes for many West Australians but people needed to remember to act responsibly when disposing of their fish offal.

“Fishing with bait is completely fine off WA beaches but people who are disposing of whole fish frames and heads need to be aware that it may not be deemed legal in certain council jurisdictions,” he said.

Stirling confirmed it was an offence under its bylaws to throw fish offal or other animal matter into the water from the beach.

A Trigg fisherman admitted to the Stirling Times that he unintentionally brought in a big shark by putting berley in the water while sitting in a kayak just behind the surf break.

He said the first he knew of the shark was when the SLSWA helicopter circled him above with its siren blaring, causing Trigg beach to be closed on a busy, hot day.

Surfer Lachie McDonald witnessed another confrontation at Trigg Beach when a surfer had to bite through a fishing line that had become entangled around him.

“When he got back to shore, the fisherman took a swing at him for breaking his line,” he said.