WA Opposition fisheries spokesman Dave Kelly said he had no doubt the Government would pressure Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt to complete the assessment in ‘a time that suits’ WA. Mr Hunt’s department can spend up to six months deciding if information in the request is enough to make a decision, or take another 12 months to test the science and public opinion behind the application.
‘My other concern is the State Government will seek another exemption for the cull if, say by September, it looks like the assessment can’t be done by summer and the Federal Government needs to rule this out as an option,’ Mr Kelly said.
Last Tuesday the State Government asked for up to 72 baited drum lines in Perth and the South-West between November 15 and April 30 until 2017.
The January 25 to April 30 trial had caught 107 tiger sharks, two mako sharks, a spinner shark, one undetermined shark species and a north-west blowie until March 16, but no great whites, the breed linked to a spate of shark attacks.
Mr Hunt said he would work with the State to ensure the application was assessed in a ‘timely fashion’.
‘Beyond that, we can’t pre-empt the decision or provide a more specific timeframe,’ his spokesman said.
Pressed on an assessment’s length and any September exemption, he said the time taken depended on whether the application had all the relevant information.
Cull alternatives, including South-West residents’ support of South Africa’s Shark Spotters program, were discussed at a #NOWASharkCull forum in Perth last month.
Forum organiser Natalie Banks said when current measures, such as helicopter patrols being 17 per cent efficient, were explained, alternatives such as tagging large sharks, barriers at beaches and the spotters got up to 87 per cent public support.
‘The biggest feedback we got from people is a complete lack of consultation by the Government about these alternatives,’ she said.
The Department of Premier and Cabinet did not respond to the Times’ questions.
– Visit https://consultation.epa.wa.gov.au.