Shark drum lines too far out

WA should look at setting its 60 drum lines closer to the shore and keep them there all year, according to some of the world's most experienced shark cull experts.

State Government officials have travelled to South Africa and met bosses of the Kwazulu-Natal Sharks Board, whose gear has eradicated fatal attacks on a previously notorious coast.

It sets its nets and drum lines 300m or 400m from the beach. WA placed its drum lines 1km offshore during a 14-week trial earlier this year.

The board's head of operations, Mike Anderson-Reade, said setting the drum lines' baited hooks 1km from the beach could fail to catch the sharks posing a risk to swimmers and surfers.

"It's kind of like going to a footy match at the wrong stadium, the stadium next door," he said.

"You want to only target fish in the area where they may affect what you're trying to protect." Mr Anderson-Reade, who has worked for the KZN Sharks Board for 37 years, said WA's drum lines might be catching sharks that would never come towards the coast.

"They might have been cruising by, a kilometre offshore where they are not a problem to anybody," he said.

"You want the animal that may well be a problem.

"Certainly from our perspective it's too far. We would fish closer in shore."

SHARK FULL COVERAGE

The WA Government, which is applying for environmental approval to continue its shark cull for the next three years, removes the drum lines for 6½ months of the year to avoid catching migrating whales.

Mr Anderson-Reade and operations manager Greg Thompson, who has worked at the board for 28 years, warned removing the drum lines let sharks re-establish themselves in those areas.

Mr Thompson said they kept drum lines in place year-round and attached pinging beacons to them to deter whales and dolphins.

The West Australian

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