WA Opposition Fisheries spokesman Dave Kelly said he had no doubt the State Government would pressure Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt to complete the assessment in ‘a time that suits’ WA.
‘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 next summer, and the Federal Government needs to rule this out as an option,’ Mr Kelly said.
Last Tuesday, the State Government asked for Federal Government approval for the use of up to 72 baited drum lines in Perth and the South-West, between November 15 and April 30, until 2017.
Until March 16, a trial of the cull had caught 107 tiger sharks, two mako sharks, a spinner shark, one undetermined species and a north-west blowie, but no great whites linked to a spate of attacks.
A Federal Government exemption allowing tiger and great white sharks to be killed ceases on April 30.
Mr Hunt has said his department would work with the Government so the three-year cull proposal was assessed in a ‘timely fashion’.
His spokesman said it was ‘speculation’ a decision on conducting a formal environmental assessment of the proposal could take up to six months, after which any assessment could last an additional six to 12 months, to test the science and gauge public opinion.
He said the State Government would ‘definitely not’ get another exemption later this year, which was made ‘very clear from the start’.
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, with a mere 17 per cent efficiency, were explained to the public, alternatives such as tagging large sharks, barriers at beaches and the spotters got up to 87 per cent 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 including culls’ costs and why sharks not linked to attacks were killed.
Submissions on the need for a separate WA assessment close tomorrow.
Visit https://consultation.epa.wa.gov.au for more details.
Smithy’s view p8