Opposition: cull funding unclear

Future culls could use smaller sharks as bait.
Future culls could use smaller sharks as bait.

But opposition fisheries spokesman Dave Kelly said it would be extraordinary for the Government not to budget for the next three years given they had asked Canberra for approval.

Premier and Cabinet and Fisheries and Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) departments’ budgets had no direct references to funding the extension after Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the proposal was a ‘controlled action’ and gave its assessment to the EPA last Wednesday.

Mr Kelly said he was ‘suspicious’ of a $6.231 million increase in Fisheries’ 2013-14 enforcement and education services that indicated some of the four-month trial cull’s cost until April 30, with $4 million differences for the services in past and forthcoming years possibly including the costs of extending the cull.

The extension proposal includes using non-protected, cull-caught sharks as bait and dropping drum lines in World Heritage Areas.

Scientists would need multiple levels of permission to use shark carcasses for research if up to 72 drum lines for great white, tiger and bull sharks were approved 1km off Perth and South-West beaches between November 15 and April 30.

Mr Hunt’s spokesman said the EPA, under chairman Paul Vogel, would collect information for the assessment before Canberra’s decision.

NoSharkCull and Cottesloe Beach protests organiser Natalie Banks said hopes of saving sharks now rested with Mr Vogel going against State Government wishes, or Mr Hunt ‘stepping up’ and representing the majority of West Australians against the cull.

In Broome, Environs Kimberley director Martin Pritchard said an EPA assessment of the cull could be ‘half-hearted’, after 2013’s Supreme Court invalidation of James Price Point gas plant approval and a refusal to assess Buru Energy’s gas fracking east of the town.

‘If you look at all (EPA) recent decisions, none put the Government offside,’ Mr Pritchard said.

The EPA did not reply to questions.

– Last week, Cockburn Council allocated half the $300,000 cost for an Eco Shark Barrier at Coogee Beach for three more years and will ask the Government for the remaining money.

See www.cockburn.wa.gov.au/ecobarrier.