Shark plan costs could  double
Passionate issue: Anti-cull protesters at Cottesloe Beach. Picture: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

The cost of the Barnett Government's shark policy could more than double after initial forecasts underestimated the logistical challenge of setting and monitoring drum lines, it has been claimed.

After announcing the plan, under which "arrays" of drum lines would be set 1km off the Perth and South West coasts bet-ween September and April, the Government indicated it would cost about $1 million a year.

However, there have been suggestions this is significantly less than the true costs involved, which were more likely to be between $2 million and $3 million a year.

The suggestion emerged yesterday as a Government panel met to discuss which commercial fishermen had won contracts to deploy and monitor drum lines under the policy from Friday.

An announcement on the winning tenders is expected to be made within days, along with a final cost estimation of the plan.

It is understood that the provisional $1 million figure stemmed from an initial but possibly mistaken belief that each specially declared "marine monitored area" would need only one boat to carry out the necessary work.

Industry sources said two boats would be required for each of the zones, particularly in the South West between Geographe Bay and Prevelly near Margaret River.

This was because one boat could not reasonably be expected to cover the distances involved and still be able to bait and check each drum line daily - as specified by the Government's proposal.

One senior fishing industry figure, who declined to be named, said this would be further complicated in the event a shark was caught because the crew would have to make a diversion and dump it further offshore.

"It's just the logistics of covering that amount of area," he said.

"These boats, sure they might do 20 knots hammer to the metal, but you have to take in the weather, putting in bait, picking up lines - it's a big job.

"And say you catch three or four sharks in a day and have to go and dispose of them?"

Asked about WA's imminent plan, Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt maintained that killing protected species was not an offence if it was done to prevent an immediate threat to human life.

The West Australian

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