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Shark zones used to protect swimmers
Shark zones used to protect swimmers

The State Government will establish special monitored zones, use baited drum lines offshore and employ professional shark fishermen to catch and kill sharks in a bid to make beaches safer under a range of measures revealed today.

Announcing the shark policy, Premier Colin Barnett said the public wanted more action taken.

Changes would be "significant" and some people would be critical, he said.

Two 'Marine Monitored Areas', stretching 1km off shore from Quinns to Warnbro in the metro area, and Forest Beach to Cape Naturaliste and Prevelly in the state's south, will be established.

Any shark over three metres sighted in these areas will be automatically hunted by professional fishermen, who will have a licence to kill the animal.

The new measures include:

Setting baited drum lines to catch large sharks one kilometre from shore, with vessels monitoring the drum lines. The drum lines will be set along heavily used beaches in the metropolitan area and the South-West, and will be deployed 24 hours a day initially from January 2014 through until April 2014.

Boosting the response to shark attack by immediately setting drum lines, leaving them in place for longer and setting them in a wider area. More vessels will be available for faster response to an attack.

The long term establishment of specific Coastal Shark Management Zones along the coast, to be determined by geographical and environmental features and water use profiles (for example, swimming, surfing, diving).

Developing a kit for communities in each zone in partnership with the State Government to mitigate the risks of a shark attack at local beaches. Measures could include education pamphlets, aerial and beach patrols, signage, providing beachside trauma packs and the deployment of drum lines. Each plan will be reviewed annually.

A community recovery policy to ensure support for communities affected by a shark attack.

Mr Barnett said the new measures would improve public safety.

“These new initiatives come on top of a raft of measures the State Government already has in place to protect beachgoers, like increased aerial surveillance, beach patrols, shark tagging and a trial of a shark enclosure in the South-West,” the Premier said.

A shark sighted this morning at Rocky Point. Picture: Surf Lifesaving WA/Twitter

“We are aware of the risks sharks pose to our beach users and the Western Australian way of life and we are implementing strategies to reduce these risks.

“But whatever the State Government does to try to minimise the risk there are still no guarantees, it is very important for Western Australian ocean users to always be aware of the risks of entering the water and to take responsibility for themselves.”

Mr Buswell said the new strategy was a result of extensive consultation.

“These measures are just another step in the State Government’s long term shark strategy which will include the establishment of Coastal Shark Management Zones," Mr Buswell said.

The State Government has consulted with the Federal Government about these measures.

“The preservation of human life is our number one priority and these measures are designed to do that, with minimum impact to the surrounding environment,” Mr Buswell said.

Hot on the heels of the State Government's announcement came a report that a shark had circled a surf-skier.

Surf Life Saving WA tweeted this afternoon that the incident happened at 12.50pm today 10m north of Mandurah Surf Club.

The shark's size and species are unknown.