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Improving shark safety at popular WA beaches

Improving shark safety at popular WA beaches

27 December 2013

The State Government will begin deploying baited drum lines at eight popular Western Australian beach locations in the new year to protect beachgoers from dangerous sharks deemed to be a threat to humans.

  • Baited drum lines to be set at five metropolitan and three South-West locations
  • Commercial vessels to monitor and patrol these eight Marine Monitored Areas
  • Sharks deemed to be a threat to water users will be destroyed

Premier Colin Barnett today announced the location of the new Marine Monitored Areas (MMAs), to be patrolled from January to April 2014.

“In consultation with Surf Life Saving WA, we have identified widely used beaches where there have been a significant number of shark sightings, where there is ongoing coverage by lifeguards and lifesavers, and where there are large numbers of people using the water,” Mr Barnett said.

The metropolitan MMAs will be at Ocean Reef/Mullaloo, Trigg/Scarborough, Floreat/City Beach, Cottesloe/North Cottesloe and Port/Leighton beaches.

Baited drum lines will be set one kilometre from shore at these locations over the next few weeks.  Protected marine sanctuaries will be observed.

In the South-West there will be drum lines set one kilometre offshore at Old Dunsborough beach, Meelup/Castle Rock and at Gracetown, up until the end of the school holidays in February 2014.  After this time, there will be greater focus on the surfing spots south of Cape Naturaliste.

The Premier reiterated the new measures were necessary after increased shark activity in WA waters in recent years.

 “We have had 20 fatal shark attacks in WA in the past 100 years - seven of them in the past three years,” he said.

“I know that the many West Australians who love to use the ocean - divers, surfers, swimmers and families - want increased protection from dangerous sharks at these beaches.”

The MMAs will be patrolled and monitored by contracted commercial fishing vessels, bolstering the coverage already provided by Department of Fisheries and WA Water Police vessels. 

There will be up to 72 drum lines deployed in stages over the January to April period. 

Fisheries Minister Ken Baston confirmed the new safety initiatives would complement the State Government’s commitments to ongoing shark surveillance and research.

“The Government has already committed nearly $20million to shark monitoring and mitigation measures, including aerial surveillance and tagging programs.  Nearly $5million of that goes to funding research initiatives to investigate deterrents, barriers, shark behaviour and enclosures,” Mr Baston said.

“We estimate that the cost of these new measures - from January to April - will be around $1million.”

The new policy is a result of consultation with stakeholders from the departments of Fisheries, Parks and Wildlife, and Transport; WA Police; the Environmental Protection Authority; the Federal Government; Surf Life Saving WA; Surfing WA; and more than 40 shark experts from The University of WA, Bond University, University of Sydney, James Cook University and water user groups.

Fact File

  • The drum lines are manufactured in WA and are designed to catch large sharks
  • The species deemed a threat are white, bull and tiger sharks over 3m in length
  • Dangerous sharks caught on drum lines will be humanely destroyed
  • The Government has committed more than $20million from 2011-12 to 2015-16 for shark hazard mitigation funding
  • Longer-term planning will see the introduction of Coastal Management Zones, where local beach communities will develop shark plans for their regions
  • Any shark sightings should be reported to Water Police on 9442 8600
  • Anyone wanting to receive alerts about shark sightings or detections can follow @SLSWA on Twitter or refer to the Surf Life Saving WA Facebook page
  • General information on sharks is also available online via the Department of Fisheries’ shark information page at www.fish.wa.gov.au/shark  

Premier’s office - 6552 5000

Fisheries Minister’s office - 6552 5400

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