Premier Colin Barnett says he gets no pleasure at seeing sharks killed but his responsibility as Premier was the safety of beachgoers.
Speaking today after the first shark was caught and kill under the State Government's drum line policy, Mr Barnett said he was pleased the shark mitigation plan was underway and that it would reduce the risk to beachgoers.
The shark, which appeared to be a 3m tiger shark, was pulled from the water shortly after 7am on a drum-line off Meelup Beach near Dunsborough.
It was shot in the head up to four times at close range.
Yesterday afternoon, amid pressure from the Government for the policy to come into force in time for the Australia Day long weekend, several lines were set either side of Dunsborough.
Despite fierce opposition and repeated claims of "direct action", environmental activists have not intervened.
The shark has been dumped off Cape Naturaliste.
The first of the baited hooks was set around Old Dunsborough beach at 2.25pm yesterday.
Mr Barnett said he was not surprised how quickly a shark was caught under the new shark mitigation plan.
“There are a lot of sharks down there,” he said.
“Anecdotal evidence is sufficiently strong that there has been a significant increase in the shark population and even more aggressive behaviour by sharks.
“Until we can provide that protection and safety, the program will continue on."
Mr Barnett was heckled at a citizenship ceremony this morning where a person in the crowd yelled that "what you're doing with the sharks is wrong".
He appeared undeterred by recent protests about the shark policy.
“I respect and acknowledge and people have different points of view and there are protestors, but my responsibility as Premier is the safety of beachgoers,” he said.
“I get no pleasure at seeing sharks killed but I have an overriding responsibility to protect the people of Western Australia and that’s what I’m doing.”
“When you have sharks of three, four, five metres long of known aggressive varieties, swimming in the water very close to beachgoers, that is imminent danger and reluctantly I have had to take that decision.”
Under the policy, baited drum lines are to be set 1km off the coast in Perth and the South West to catch great white, tiger and bull sharks bigger than 3m in length.
Sea Shepherd's Jeff Hansen said the shark was “believed to be a beautiful tiger shark” more than three metres long.
The fisherman contracted to catch and kill in the South West will also lay the lines at beaches in Meelup, Castle Rock and Gracetown.
Earlier yesterday, a document appeared on the Department of Transport website implying metropolitan drum lines would also be in place by Monday.
"Mariners are advised that a number of Government of Western Australia shark drum lines have been deployed within 1km offshore of the following metropolitan and regional areas and will remain in place until April 30,” it said.
The notice, due to be published in The West Australian on Monday, has since been changed.
A spokesman acknowledged the error and said the wording had been corrected to include the words “will soon be deployed in the metropolitan region”.
"The fact remains, baited drum lines will be placed at popular metropolitan beaches as soon as possible, and mariners need to be advised there are exclusion zones around these deployments,” he said.
Labor spokeswoman Sue Ellery said it was another example of the Government botching the implementation of the policy.
“All they have done today is confuse mariners with the notice on the Department of Transport website,” she said.
“If the lines are eventually ever actually dropped in the metropolitan area, how will metro boat users know which notice to believe?”
Conservationists are reportedly in Dunsborough today and are preparing to free any animals that are caught by the drum lines.
It is believed about 20 people from conservation group Animal Rescue Team are in the area with scuba diving equipment and an inflatable boat.
The Government yesterday announced the shark barrier designed to protect beachgoers at Old Dunsborough beach had been completed.
The $165,000 barrier, based on those used on the Gold Coast to prevent bull shark attacks, has been built as part of the City of Busselton’s beach enclosure trial.
The enclosure has six metal piles drilled into the seabed supporting a 100m x 300m mesh barrier.