A government department and a private contractor conducting WA's shark kill may have to pull up drum lines prematurely if the Environmental Protection Authority scrutinises the cull policy.
The latest hurdle for the contentious policy emerged after an unnamed third party last week referred it to the EPA, which will decide whether to assess the program. Public submissions on the policy are open until Thursday, after which the EPA will have 28 days to decide whether to assess it.
If the EPA finds that an assessment is warranted, it is likely that drum lines set off popular Perth and South West beaches will have to be removed immediately.
Such a decision would be an embarrassment for the Government, which has vowed to keep the lines in the water until April 30. It would also add to doubts about the policy's longer-term prospects after the Federal Government said that any resumption of the program in future years would depend on it going through a Federal environmental assessment that could take years.
WA's Fisheries Department has said the policy will not have "any measurable effect" on the marine environment.
It emerged last week that more than 6000 public submissions were made to the EPA within 48 hours of it opening consultation on the policy on Wednesday.
The Conservation Council of WA said the number of submissions appeared to be a record for a project in WA within such a short time and was evidence the Government had underestimated the level of public sentiment about the policy.