Authorities will have greater powers to pre-emptively kill great white sharks swimming close to popular beaches under a raft of new measures announced by the State Government this morning.
Premier Colin Barnett and Fisheries Minister Norman Moore moved to head off growing concern about the risks of shark attack by unveiling $6.85 million in new so-called “shark mitigation” strategies.
It follows a horror 12-month period in WA in which five people were killed in attacks by white sharks and significant numbers of the predators were spotted.
Chief among the measures was $2 million to allow the Department of Fisheries to track, catch and kill white pointer sharks if they are deemed to be an imminent risk to public safety.
They also contain $200,000 for a feasibility study to trial shark enclosures, which safeguard swimmers by completely quarantining an area of water - typically a protected area such as Cockburn Sound or Geographe Bay.
Local governments would be called to bid for the right to host a shark enclosure - which are different to shark nets - off one of their beaches.
Other proposals to be given funding in the announcement were $2 million for further shark tagging activities, $2 million for research into shark repellent devices and $500,000 for surf clubs to buy jet skis.
Mr Barnett said the measures would help authorities gain a better understanding of white pointers while also providing extra safety for beachgoers.
“These new measures will not only help us to understand the behaviour of sharks but also offer beachgoers greater protection and confidence as we head into summer," Mr Barnett said.
Mr Moore said redefining what constituted imminent risk would give authorities much better ability to kill sharks because previous destroy orders had only been issued after an attack.
"Now proactive action will be taken if a large white shark presents imminent threat to people," Mr Moore said.
However, Mr Moore conceded there were no guarantees that Fisheries officers or the commercial operators they enlisted to help would be able to kill any shark identified as an unacceptable risk.