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Shark fears spook surf ace
The West Australian

WA surfing legend Taj Burrow says for the first time he is spooked by sharks.

Burrow has joined the surfing community in endorsing the WA Government's shark-kill policy.

Burrow, ranked fifth on the surfing World Championship Tour, has returned to his home town Yallingup for summer and said that though sharks would never keep him out of the ocean, the issue was weighing on the minds of locals after six fatal attacks in two years.

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"It's all everyone talks about," he said.

"It spooks me a little, too. I never thought about sharks the whole time I grew up down here - not once - and now it's on my mind almost every surf I go for.

"I don't think culling is the right word but I wouldn't be against people fishing for sharks that are threatening people."

Burrow's comments were echoed by State governing body Surfing WA and other prominent surfers, who believe the fatal att-ack on Chris Boyd in Gracetown in November was the final straw.

Surfing WA events manager Justin Majeks said the plan to set drum lines along the coast would make it safer for beachgoers. "I think surfers are probably a little bit scared to go in the water and the sentiment of people I speak to is, 'Something has to be done'," he said.

Margaret River Boardriders Club committee member Tom Innes said many surfers could not understand the negativity towards the shark-kill proposal.

"There is an overwhelming, 'Wow, this is happening and it wasn't happening before'," he said. "Families are being torn apart and surfers and others are changing their lifestyle to suit the fear they've come to know.

"It's fair enough protesters want to protect the environment but barely any of them are from the region. They don't spend time in the water and a lot of them have no idea what's going on."

Yallingup surfer Paul Paterson said the Government's strategy was not a cull and would give beachgoers peace of mind. "It will bring some balance back to our oceans," he said. "It's good to see the Government taking action."

Next weekend Burrow and Surfing WA will host the ninth annual Taj's Small Fries junior surfing competition at Yallingup, where extra sea and air surveillance will be in place.

Burrow, 35, said he was blown away by the junior talent in WA.

"I wanted to create a day where they all come together and have fun," he said.

Yallingup's Duke Nagtzaam, 14, will be competing in his fourth Small Fries event and said it was a great opportunity for young surfers to learn from one of their heroes.