Two weeks after ruling out shark nets, Premier Colin Barnett said yesterday that the State Government would look at installing nets in response to attacks happening at an "unprecedented" frequency.
Mr Barnett also flagged aerial shark patrols at Rottnest and South West beaches in the summer holiday period, something he did not believe had been done before.
From tomorrow, Perth's beaches will be patrolled by a helicopter leased by the Government until a dedicated Surf Life Saving WA aircraft becomes available next month.
"This is an unprecedented situation to have had three fatalities in a matter of weeks," he said.
"There will be some consideration to how we control the numbers of sharks, on destroying if necessary sharks if they pose a direct threat to swimmers and beach-goers. There may be some further consideration of shark nets, limited ones in particular locations."
Beaches at Rottnest Island reopened at 4pm yesterday, 24 hours after the last reported shark sighting. Despite the weekend death of Texan diver George Thomas Wainwright at Rottnest, Mr Barnett encouraged delegates in Perth for CHOGM to take a dip between the flags. On October 11, after the disappearance of 64-year-old Bryn Martin while swimming off Cottesloe - he is suspected to have been taken by a great white shark - Mr Barnett said he was opposed to beach nets.
He said smaller sharks could slip through nets and become trapped, heightening the risk to swimmers.
Opposition Leader Eric Ripper said yesterday that Mr Barnett had suggested a shark cull and relaxation of commercial fishing restrictions at the weekend, only to be contradicted by Fisheries Norman Moore. "Now Mr Barnett has backflipped on shark nets," Mr Ripper said. "The flip-flopping is only undermining public confidence."
Vic Peddemors, head of the shark research section at the NSW Department of Primary Industries, said shark nets could be installed at Perth beaches.
"The question is do you want to go down that route," he said. "I don't know what the dolphin population is there but if you've got resident dolphins, you'll catch them."
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