Shark caught, Premier jeered
The contracted fisherman shoots a 3m tiger shark caught off Meelup beach. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

People opposed to the State Government's shark-kill policy have removed bait from drum lines set in the South West, a shark conservation group claims.

Ross Weir, founder of West Australians for Shark Conservation, told 6PR this morning that baits had been removed.

"It has happened in some very dangerous weather conditions. Baits have been removed from lines in the South West," Mr Weir said.

He said if members of the public wanted to pull up drum lines when they are set off the metropolitan coast "we won't stop them".

No sharks were caught on the drum lines overnight.

The fisherman contracted to carry out the policy in the South West, told 6PR this morning the shark caught and killed yesterday was a threat to public safety.

“I'll continue to do it and then hopefully later we'll perhaps be able to take some samples or contribute in some way to knowledge and better understanding,” he told 6PR.

“I was satisfied that I managed to get the rounds in the right place and we dispatched it as quickly as we possibly could."

Mr Weir said the fisherman did not have experience with sharks and his .22 rifle was not an appropriate gun to kill great white sharks.

Sea Shepherd Australia managing director Jeff Hansen said it was a cruel, painful and unnecessary death for the shark which could have been hanging on the drum line for hours.

The 3m tiger shark was pulled from the water shortly after 7am yesterday on a drum line set 1km off Meelup beach, near Dunsborough.

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The shark was shot in the head four times at close range by a private fisherman contracted by the Government. It was then towed about 5km out to sea and dumped.

The shark was hooked on the eighth and final drum line inspected by the fisherman yesterday. Despite public claims from environmentalists who promised to disrupt the drum lining operation, the fisherman's work was conducted without incident.

Premier Colin Barnett, who issued a staunch defence of the policy in The Weekend West on public safety grounds, said he was not surprised how quickly a shark had been caught after the drum lines were set off South West beaches for the first time on Saturday.

"There are a lot of sharks down there," he said yesterday.

"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 an Australia Day citizenship ceremony in Wanneroo when a lone protester yelled: "What you're doing with sharks is wrong."

The Premier said people were entitled to their opinions.

"You're in Australia, you can actually do that . . . we have free speech, freedom of expression," he said.

Shadow fisheries minister Dave Kelly said the Government had put forward no research or evidence the drum lines would make anyone safer.

"The Government said this was going to be done humanely. I'm not sure that shooting a shark with a shotgun will enhance anyone's image - WA's or the State Government's," Mr Kelly said. "I think a lot of West Australians are uncomfortable that this is the best we can do as far as a response to the situation goes. People are uncomfortable about seeing an animal shot like that and disposed of in such a way. We're supposed to be the clever country.

"We've always said the things we know make a difference are things like aerial surveillance and tagging. Those things should be enhanced rather than going off on a new tangent, which the drum lines are."

Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren said news of the policy's first "innocent victim" had hit hard. "We are more determined than ever to see a quick end to this senseless and indiscriminate cull of marine life," she said.

Picture: Sharon Smith

The West Australian

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