View Comments
Western Australia s shark kill policy will be challenged in the courts by Sea Shepherd.
AAP Western Australia's shark kill policy will be challenged in the courts by Sea Shepherd.

The West Australian government will be forced to defend the legality of its controversial shark kill policy, after marine activists Sea Shepherd recruited the mother of a fatal attack victim to support their opposition in court.

At a WA Supreme Court hearing set down for next week, Sea Shepherd's lawyers will challenge the legality of Premier Colin Barnett's decision to place baited drumlines off Perth beaches and the south-west.

And Sharon Burden - whose son Kyle was mauled to death while bodyboarding in Bunker Bay in 2011 - has put her name on the action, saying opponents to the so-called cull had been given no option.

"When you lose someone close to you something like this means you have to keep reliving the event - but there are times when you feel strongly about something and you have to follow through," Ms Burden told AAP.

"We were not given the opportunity as a community to fully explore this issue, before it was haphazardly undertaken."

Sea Shepherd will be seeking an immediate injunction to have the drumlines removed, on the basis an exemption granted to itself by the WA government to allow the killing of tiger, great white and bull sharks was illegal.

The legal action will be led by Patrick Pearlman, principal solicitor for the Environmental Defender's Office in WA, and prominent barrister Richard Hooker.

"The law has not been complied with, there should have been a debate - this program has been fired from the hip from the beginning," Mr Pearlman said.

"In Sea Shepherd's opinion the rule of law is not being followed, and since the date this program was tendered the state have all been acting in violation of the law and conducting what are punishable offences."

The government has faced vitriolic opposition to the policy since it was announced late last year, with rallies on Perth and south-west beaches, and close scrutiny of the drum line activity.

Dozens of tiger sharks - but no great whites - have been caught by the hooks, with daily photos of captured sharks posted on social media.

Sea Shepherd says it is seeking a fast-tracked injunction to remove the drumlines immediately on the basis a judicial review needs to be conducted into the way the 'shark mitigation' program was rolled out.

A court hearing is set to take place next Tuesday, March 4.

Ms Burden said she hoped the story of her son would help highlight larger environmental issues, for which he and she shared a passion.

"Kyle's story has really brought a focus on bigger issues that we need to consider as a community," she said.

A spokeswoman for Mr Barnett says the premier would not be commenting as the matter was going to court.

Later, Mr Barnett said he was confident the policy would stand up to the legal challenge, which he claimed the government had anticipated.

"The West Australian government is absolutely confident that the policy in place is the right policy and we intend to continue it," Mr Barnett told reporters.

"And that's why we took great care, both in terms of processes at a state level and at a Commonwealth level, and we are confident that that is done in the right way."

And he said the policy was here to stay.

"We intend to continue it through next summer as well," Mr Barnett said.

"The decision that we took was not easy - no one takes any satisfaction out of seeing any creature killed - but I think the decision taken by government was that the protection of life comes first, and I think the vast majority of the community support that."