WA Review Recommends Drum Lines Stay For 3 Years

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A comprehensive review of the Western Australian Government’s drum line program has found it had significantly less environmental impact than other shark control programs around the world.

The review also recommended the drum line program continue for three years (15 Nov – 30 April).

Premier Colin Barnett today said the drum line program – which ran for the second half of last summer – confirmed not one dolphin, whale, turtle or seal was caught during the program, and the only non-shark species by-catch hooked were seven rays and one North West blowfish. A total of 172 sharks were caught. None were white sharks, however 50 were three metres or greater, including a 4.5 metre tiger shark off Floreat Beach.

“The data collected from January to April this year will substantially add to the body of research already undertaken by the WA Government,” Mr Barnett said.

“Data such as catch species and numbers, where the sharks were caught and when, will help contribute to our knowledge of sharks off the WA coast and help the Department of Fisheries and The University of Western Australia.”

The total cost of the program was $1.28million. Aimed at enhancing public safety at popular metropolitan beaches and South-West surf spots, it complemented the more than $22million investment by the Government on shark hazard mitigation.

The 14 week trial attracted intense media and community interest. The trial generated:

  • 765 separate articles on sharks in local, state and national newspapers
  • 1,100 radio news bulletins on sharks (Western Australia)
  • 850 radio talk back comments on sharks (Western Australia)
  • 290 television news items on sharks (Western Australia)
  • 286,000 emails and letters to the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (DPC) – a significant number of which were pro forma emails and
  • a significant number of postings on Twitter and Facebook, some of which were offensive and contained personal attacks on members of the Government and staff involved with the program.

“The Western Australian drum line program was in response to 10 deaths in 10 years – that’s seven in three-and-a-half years – which was significantly more than any other Australian State,” the Premier said.

“We have spent considerable effort in designing an environmentally sensitive system that is a world leader in significantly reducing by-catch.”

Authorities running shark control programs on Reunion Island and in South Africa have shown considerable interest in the program in Western Australia.

“It appears that our program is well regarded by those who have been operating shark control programs for considerably longer than Western Australia,” he said.

The Government has committed $22million to shark mitigation initiatives in research, tracking, shark monitoring and funding of beach surveillance, over the next four years.

The review was a requirement of the Federal Environment Minister. Currently a Public Environmental Review (PER) is open for public comment.

Fact File

  • Review has been posted on the DPC website http://www.dpc.wa.gov.au
  • Review covers history of shark attacks; description of the program; analysis of catch data; consultation process; costs; criticism of the program; comparisons with other programs; implications for water events in Perth; research and recommendations

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