Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has indicated he'll keep an open mind about a possible rethink of the protected status of great white sharks.
The West Australian government has asked Mr Burke to review the feared shark's status after the state recorded its fifth fatal shark attack in 10 months on July 14.
Mr Burke says he'll base a decision on expert information.
The request was pitched "in the right way" by the state government, which wants to know if great white shark populations have rebounded since the species was listed as protected in WA in 1997.
"They haven't asked for any unilateral change - they've asked for it to be based on the facts," Mr Burke told ABC radio today.
Scientific assessments of great white shark populations were under way, and the minister said he could not say when they would be complete.
"If the data comes back that there hasn't been a shift, that there hasn't been a significant recovery, then it would be difficult to imagine the scientific committee recommending a change in the status," he said.
"But if the data comes back with strong recovery numbers, then that would feed into the decisions and recommendations that come to me."
Mr Burke said there were wildly different views among scientists on the effectiveness of shark nets.
Some believed the nets entangled other forms of marine life, which could attract sharks, he said."I'd be guided by the expert information," he said.
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