Barnett flags end of drum lines off Perth

Colin Barnett has given a strong indication the Government could abandon its shark drum-line policy in Perth but flagged making it permanent in the South West.

The Premier said during a radio interview yesterday that sharks posed a far more serious risk to ocean users in the South West than they did in the metropolitan area.

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Mr Barnett suggested the drum lines could be removed from Perth "maybe after a couple of years" depending on how many sharks were caught over a "full summer".

However, he signalled he was inclined to make the policy permanent in the South West.

As part of the Government's hotly contended policy, baited drum lines are set 1km off popular beaches between September and April to catch bull, tiger and great white sharks bigger than 3m.

"I'm hoping that we might be able to back off on this policy on metropolitan beaches maybe after a couple of years if we have got the numbers in control," Mr Barnett told 6PR. "I suspect in the South West this could be a permanent feature.

"Clearly it is more dangerous at the South West beaches and also more difficult to monitor."

Asked to elaborate at a press conference later, Mr Barnett appeared to temper his comments.

"The point I was making was in the South West, certainly in the earlier parts of summer, there seems to be a concentration of very large sharks, it's a more difficult coast- line to manage and I suspect that the program may well continue on a medium-term to longer-term basis in the South West," he said.

Mr Barnett's comments came a day after Fisheries Minister Ken Baston said almost all of the 67 sharks caught since the policy came into force were tiger sharks.

No great white sharks - which have caused most of WA's fatal shark attacks - were caught.

Shadow fisheries minister Dave Kelly said Mr Barnett's latest position "shows he is making it up as he goes along".

The West Australian

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