Clarity needed on shark kill rules
RULES for killing sharks immediately threatening a beach appear to give more Fisheries officers power to destroy the animals without asking State and Federal government departments, which Premier Colin Barnett says should be bypassed.
“In the event that either, or both, of the (departments’) directors-general are unavailable, the decision-maker is authorised to proceed,” says the Guidelines for Fishing for Sharks Posing An Imminent Threat to Public Safety from November 23, 2012.
There were five attacks until the powers were enacted in Nov 2012 and the State Government gave Fisheries officers powers to kill a shark, including Federallyprotected great whites, within WA’s three nautical mile limit.
Canberra’s jurisdiction starts at three nautical miles and it administers the Federal Act protecting great whites in all waters.
NoWASharkCull convenor Natalie Banks said Mr Barnett may be misleading the public by implying that Canberra’s approval was needed to kill imminent threat sharks when the guidelines only listed Department of Fisheries’ permission.
Ms Banks said the State Government had to clarify the guidelines’ mooted streamlining and say if exemptions would be sought to kill great whites immediately and beyond three nautical miles.
They also needed to explain why they were still seeking drum line approval from Canberra.
On September 11, Mr Barnett appeared to dump the drum lines in Perth before saying he wanted officers to have immediate powers, without departmental nods or Canberra’s approval that “could take up to two hours”, to destroy a shark staying off a beach particularly in the South West in school holidays.
A Department of Premier and Cabinet spokesman said Fisheries’ regional and shark response managers were the only alternative approvers to kill if a director general was unavailable.
He said Canberra’s permission was only needed during the existing Public Environmental Review (PER) that the Commonwealth used to determine the Government’s request to extend the drum line program.
It was “very unlikely” hooks for imminent threat sharks would be set further than 3 nautical miles