Shark kill faces Federal hurdles

Illustration: Toby Wilkinson/The West Australian

Colin Barnett's shark cull could be in doubt after the Abbott Government insisted the policy be subjected to a full Federal environmental approvals process.

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt yesterday wrote to the State Government confirming the shark kill program would need to be assessed properly and would not be given a once-over lightly approval.

Federal environmental approvals are notoriously protracted and sometimes take years to clear bureaucratic checks.

Mr Hunt granted the State Government a temporary exemption to set drum lines to target protected species of sharks this year.

The Premier is now seeking permission from the Federal Government to implement WA's shark cull on a long-term basis.

Though Mr Hunt indicated he would try to process the request as soon as possible, there was no guarantee it would be granted in time for next summer.

In a letter to Mr Hunt earlier this year, Mr Barnett expressed concerns that the approvals process could take 12-18 months.

Mr Hunt said he had made it clear the previous exemption granted to WA had been temporary only. "At the time I made very clear that any shark mitigation activities beyond the end of April would require the full and rigorous assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act," he said.

"Once the assessment process is complete I will carefully consider the assessment, the advice of the department and all public comments received before deciding whether this program can go ahead."

The State Government is seeking the ability to kill great white sharks, tiger sharks and bull sharks over 3m.

Mr Hunt said the Government would work with the State to look at alternative measures such as Eco barriers.

It was revealed this week the drum line program had caught more than 170 sharks.

Fifty tiger sharks longer than 3m were destroyed.

No great whites were caught.

The biggest animal captured was a 4.5m tiger shark caught off Floreat beach in February.

Drum lines were set off five Perth beaches and two beaches in the South West under the trial cull.

The State Government said though no great whites were caught, beach closures were down on previous years.

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