Shark nets probably won’t be adopted at West Australian beaches, with Premier Colin Barnett saying swimmers can feel safe between the flags in patrolled areas.
Mr Barnett’s comments came as a 34-year-old surfer recovered in Royal Perth Hospital after being attacked by a shark in a remote part of the Gascoyne region, some 140km north of Carnarvon, on Tuesday afternoon.
A report commissioned by the WA government was “not particularly encouraging” about shark nets, Mr Barnett said.
“I have said, given the numbers of attacks and another one yesterday, that we will look at everything that is used to minimise the risk of shark attack including shark nets,” he told ABC radio.
“A shark net is in fact a shark trap... and people have very mixed views about shark nets when they see it in that context, but there are other things that are being looked at.”
Mr Barnett said the WA government would consider easing restrictions on the number of sharks professional fisherman could catch and culling large great whites that lurk close to swimming areas.
The government was also looking at providing surf life saving clubs with more equipment to help them protect people in the water, and had increased shark patrols.
The state government recently asked federal environment minister Tony Burke to see if great white shark numbers had recovered since they were protected in WA in 1997.
The request came after the fifth fatal shark attack in WA waters in 10 months.
On Wednesday, Mr Barnett said he believed shark numbers had risen.
“The bottom line is, there clearly are more sharks,” he said.
Mr Barnett echoed shark experts in noting that most shark attacks targeted divers and surfers in remote locations, not at patrolled metropolitan beaches.
“I think that’s where we’ve got to give people absolute confidence: when you swim on a beach between the flags, you’re safe.”
WA’s latest shark attack victim, whose name has not yet been released, is in a stable condition.
It is not yet clear what type of shark attacked him.
Labor has promised a non-stop train service to Bunbury and to revive plans for a fast train for the city.