A former chairman of WA's environment watchdog has thrown his support behind the Barnett Government's contentious shark kill policy, saying it is a reasonable measure to safeguard human life.
Barry Carbon, who led the Environmental Protection Authority between 1985 and 1993, said although baited drum lines were not foolproof, they were a proved way of saving lives.
Mr Carbon said although the policy was unpopular with many people, the Government was right to prioritise the protection of human life.
He also dismissed suggestions the policy could endanger the populations of marine species, particularly the great white shark, saying if anything it was a reflection of the success of efforts to protect them.
The Government reopened divisions this week when it referred plans to roll it out for the next three years to State and Federal environmental regulators.
"If we are to have more big sharks, then we need to have responsible actions to protect people from those sharks," Mr Carbon said.
Citing the example of Queensland, Mr Carbon noted there had often been swimmer deaths because of shark attacks before drum lines and nets had been introduced in 1962. Conversely, he said there had been just one fatality - in 2006 - at beaches which had the devices since then.
He also claimed it was a fallacy to argue that WA's drum line program was pointless because tiger sharks were the predominant species captured.
Tiger sharks had been involved in many attacks on humans, including in WA, he said.
Shadow fisheries minister Dave Kelly rejected Mr Carbon's remarks, saying he was not convinced Queensland's beaches had been made safer by drum lines or nets. Mr Kelly argued the Government's policy made no sense, pointing out that it would kill hardly any white pointers even though they were responsible for almost all deadly shark attacks in WA.
He rejected the assertion that tiger sharks were a menace requiring drum lines to be managed and denounced the policy as a waste of money in a tight fiscal environment.