BAR­NETT CANS DRUM LINES

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - By JON BAS­SETT

THE di­vi­sive is­sue of drum lines off Perth’s coast is dead, but Pre­mier Colin Bar­nett has ques­tioned if the South West can be pro­tected.

“I don’t think drum lines will ap­ply in WA for this sum­mer, and prob­a­bly maybe not again,” Mr Bar­nett said, af­ter the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Au­thor­ity last week rec­om­mended against the lines of baited hooks be­cause of un­cer­tainty about great white shark num­bers in WA and SA wa­ters.

A State Gov­ern­ment desk­top sur­vey es­ti­mated 3400-5400 adults of the threat­ened species were linked to seven fa­tal at­tacks in three years but sci­en­tists’ ge­netic sam­pling said about 69. The EPA’s test of drum lines’ en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact was peer re­viewed by CSIRO chief sci­en­tist Barry Bruce, af­ter 6751 pub­lic sub­mis­sions and two pe­ti­tions with 25,000 sig­na­tures were re­ceived.

Mr Bar­nett has hinted that he may ask Fed­eral En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Greg Hunt to change rules so Fish­eries of­fi­cers have the im­me­di­ate power to kill a “rogue” shark off a beach, par­tic­u­larly in the South West.

The Pre­mier said it was a “con­tra­dic­tion” that drum lines and lethal nets could still be used in NSW and Queens­land but he ac­cepted the EPA’s rec­om­men­da­tion, which the Gov­ern­ment would not ap­peal.

He said he­li­copter pa­trols, surf lifesaver train­ing and equip­ment and swim­ming en­clo­sures at po­ten­tial sites had made Perth beaches “as safe as they could be” but he gave no com­mit­ment to the Shark Eco Bar­rier be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by Cottes­loe Coun­cil.

Greens MLC Lynn Ma­cLaren crit­i­cised Mr Bar­nett for us­ing a “1930s’ no­tion” of “rogue”, which the Gov­ern­ment’s shark safety web­site also de­bunks. Ms Ma­cLaren said sci­ence showed great whites swam more than 100km daily, so killing one or sev­eral sharks did not “sub­stan­tially re­duce” risk and “gen­uine” pro­tec­tion re­quired en­clo­sures, more per- sonal and surf­board shark re­pelling de­vices and greater pa­trols.

No WA sharkcull founder Natalie Banks said drum line op­po­nents were “ec­static” about the with­drawal, which was not ex­pected.

Mr Hunt’s spokesman said that the EPA’s re­port, de­part­ment ad­vice and pub­lic sub­mis­sions would be looked at “very care­fully” and a de­ci­sion would be made on the im­pact to threat­ened and mi­grat­ing species.

AT last. A bit of com­mon sense. The EPA rec­om­men­da­tion stop­ping a few baited hooks, sup­posed to pro­tect against ran­dom at­tacks by great white sharks that fol­low in­creas­ing whale mi­gra­tions, is to be wel­comed. Patently cruel and ex­pen­sive, the hooks caught no great whites, di­vided WA and brought un­due na­tional and in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion to a State that should be pro­mot­ing it­self as pro­gres­sive and not a place of off­shore slaugh­ter. Yes, Pre­mier Colin Bar­nett, shoot­ing a shark stay­ing off a hol­i­day beach is a rea­son­able re­quest, but re­search must de­ter­mine if that is nor­mal shark be­hav­iour so un­nec­es­sary shark and hu­man deaths are avoided in the long term, and you are right to say Queens­land’s and NSW’s shark lines and nets are hyp­o­crit­i­cal. Put those States to shame, Mr Bar­nett, and in­stall shark bar­ri­ers and en­clo­sures that keep peo­ple with swim­ming chil­dren happy, and fund vi­tal re­search into how sharks live along our coast.

Jon Bas­sett - Re­porter

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