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 either spend up to six months deciding if information in the request is enough to make a decision, or take 12 more 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 permission 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 has caught 107 tigers, two makos, a spinner shark and one undetermined shark species, and a north-west blowfish up to March 16, but no great whites, which have been linked to the spate of attacks.
Mr Hunt has said he would work with the State Government so the application was assessed in a ‘timely fashion’.
‘Beyond that, we can’t pre-empt the decision,’ 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.
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 questions.
– Submissions on the need for a separate WA assessment close tomorrow. Visit https://consultation.|epa.wa.gov.au.