The Department of Fisheries will not reveal the cost of a fruitless eight-day shark hunt near Dunsborough which Margaret River surfers say puts water users at further risk of attack.
Shark response unit spokesperson Tony Cappelluti did not respond to specific questions from the Times about the specific cost of the recent kill order activity which started on December 27 and was abandoned on Monday when the agency’s director-general Stuart Smith rescinded the order after there were no sightings of any sharks in the 3m to 4m range since last Tuesday.
“The Government has allocated $500,000 per year over four years to allow the Department of Fisheries to track, catch and, if necessary, destroy sharks identified in close proximity to beachgoers, where an imminent threat order has been made,” he said.
“The costs for operations, such as those near Dunsborough in the past week, come from that operational budget.”
Margaret River Boardriders president Tom Innes said culling sharks was a divisive issue among surfers, but many formed the opinion the recent kill order could do more harm than good.
“The way they were aiming to attract a shark by putting berley out in the water, they were potentially encouraging a man-eating predator to come into shore by berleying up the water,” he said.
Mr Innes believed shark research and surfer education was the key to safer waters for beach users.
“The local surfers’ awareness is great. People are more aware of the sharks and as a result are making better surfing decisions, like going out in groups and not surfing at dusk,” he said.
Mr Innes said he would like to see a speed-up of results from government investment in research.
Conservation Council of WA marine program co-ordinator Tim Nicol said even if the shark was caught, he doubted it would improve safety in the water.“We need to continue to look at proven methods to deter attacks,” he said.