The West

Call for shark detail as alert beacon triggered 29 times
The beach closed sign erected by Joondalup rangers yesterday.

Update, 2.25pm: Two great white sharks were responsible for triggering an acoustic receiver off Ocean Reef at least 29 times yesterday, it has been revealed.

The Department of Fisheries had refused to say whether it is one shark or several predators lurking off the coast.

However, The Conservation Council of WA said two tagged great whites less than three metres long triggered the alarms.

The shark beacon has been set off more than 60 times since Sunday, forcing several closures of beaches near Ocean Reef and Mullaloo.

There were four activations early this morning, before 7am.

Joondalup mayor Troy Pickard yesterday said the department had a duty to tell the community whether it was one shark and called on the State Government to protect beachgoers.

“If it is the same white shark that is regularly returning to the Ocean Reef area, then it is my belief that this presents a serious risk to human life and the Government needs to eliminate the danger,” Mr Pickard said.

Fisheries believes the level of information it gives is adequate to protect the public but said it would consider whether to release more data.

Last month the State Government gave the Fisheries director-general powers to issue a kill order if a shark posed an “imminent threat” to people.

Fisheries director-general Stuart Smith said repeated confirmed sightings of a single large shark off popular swimming beaches could be deemed an imminent threat if people were able to swim without knowing it was nearby.

But he said before a kill order was issued, efforts would be made to negate the threat by closing beaches, patrolling the waters or shepherding the shark out to sea.

The Conservation Council said a shark was not an imminent threat just because it set off a beacon.

Flavio Piazza was one of about 10 swimmers prepared to get the regular morning swim in at Mullaloo Beach yesterday. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

The shark tagging and coastal satellite-linked receivers, which have a 400m detection radius, are part of a research program to monitor the behaviour of great whites off the WA coast.

About 120 sharks have been tagged and each transmitter is unique, so authorities can identify which shark triggers a receiver.

Shark response unit spokesman Tony Cappelluti said the department did not usually provide details about specific sharks, because all tagged sharks were potentially dangerous.

“It would be risky for people to make value judgments about the level of risk based on the size or species of sharks or their behaviour,” he said.

The West Australian

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