Shark plan ‘dangerous’: MP

MAYLANDS Labor MP Lisa Baker says premier Colin Barnett’s shark-baiting policy is “rushed and potentially dangerous”.

Last month the WA government announced a tender for professional fishers to use hooks on baited drum lines to catch and kill great white, tiger or bull sharks.

The lines are to be set 1km from selected Perth and south-west beaches and target sharks more than 3m long.

Thousands gathered at Cottesloe Beach last Saturday to protest the policy.

Ms Baker—co-chair of the parliamentary friends of the RSPCA —says other marine life will be caught in the lines too, and their carcasses will attract sharks to the area.

“The Barnett government’s shark policy is an indiscriminate cull which could result in the deaths of other marine species including dolphins, turtles, and non-threatening shark species,” she says.

“It may increase the risk to swimmers by attracting sharks to popular beaches.

“It is not a policy which is based on science—baited drum lines are opposed by marine experts and many within the fishing industry.”

Ms Baker says a safer alternative is increased tagging of great whites and the installation of real-time satellite tracking beacons to alert authorities when tagged sharks are near beaches.

“Currently sections of regional coastline in the south-west and south coasts have no such beacons installed,” she says.

Ms Baker says a WA Labor government would accept the offer of tagging and research assistance from the US group Ocearch but “this offer sadly has been rejected by the Barnett government”.

The baiting policy was introduced after seven fatal shark attacks in three years.

It is scheduled to be introduced this weekend.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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