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Major change to Aussie city's beaches in wake of fatal shark attacks

Shark fishing will be banned across Perth's beaches from next month.

Shark fishing will effectively be banned across all the beaches in one major Aussie city in the wake of two fatal shark attacks in three years.

“Simply incompatible with community values and community safety” is how fisheries minister Don Punch described shark fishing in Perth after he made the announcement on Wednesday.

Conservationists have welcomed the state government’s decision, labelling it a win for public safety and shark welfare.

A shark swimming at an Australian beach. Only the fin is visible.
Experts have warned fishing for sharks can lure them towards popular beaches. Source: Getty (file photo)

Shark advocates welcome new fishing rules

“Shark fishing increases the chances that humans and sharks will run into one another… and encouraging them into shore solidifies that fear that they are looking for us, when in fact most of the time it’s not the case,” Humane Society International marine biologist Lawrence Chlebeck told Yahoo News Australia.

"Fishing is a responsibility not a right. The Western Australian government's decision... is a positive step towards improving community safety for all ocean users," Australian Marine Conservation Society shark expert Dr Leonardo Guida said.

"This is a fantastic move that will make Perth beaches safer. Attracting sharks to popular beaches for the cheap thrill of catching one is selfish and dangerous. We’d love to see this ban spread around the country," Envoy Foundation's Andre Borell said.

Shark anglers set to face fines if they break the rules

Under the new regulations, the use of wire trace lures will be banned within 800 metres of all metropolitan beaches, making it virtually impossible for fishermen to catch sharks.

Stock images of Stella Berry (left) and Paul Millachip (right).
Stella Berry (left) and Paul Millachip (right) were both victims of shark attacks. Source: 7News/WA Police

Recreational angler Guy Saayman noted shark fishermen were still welcome to head offshore, and he believes the new beach restrictions make sense. “If you're going shark fishing you have to chum up the water with a whole lot of muck and that attracts them to the beaches, and they hang around," he said.

The decision to ban shark fishing comes after the deaths of 16-year-old Stella Berry in February and 57-year-old Paul Millachip in November, 2021.

The fines will come into effect on November 3, and fines will initially range between $50 and $400, although repeat offenders can expect to face fines of up to $5,000.

with AAP

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