Mesh shark enclosures flagged (cloned for SW 1346636749)
Mesh shark enclosures flagged

An independent report has recommended fine mesh enclosures to protect WA beaches from sharks, but urged against traditional nets.

The enclosures, commonly used in places like Hong Kong, are composed of fine mesh that provides a complete barrier for almost everything but sea water.

They are commonly deployed in coves to fully encapsulate a beach and prevent sharks and other marine animals such as dolphins, marine turtles and rays from entering.

Fisheries minister Norman Moore warned the proposed measure could be costly, and would not protect people diving and surfing outside the enclosures.

"Nothing's failsafe I'm afraid to say, there's no silver bullet," the minister told ABC radio this morning.

The report, commissioned by the Department of Fisheries, was carried out by Associate Professor Daryl McPhee from Queensland's Bond University.

Mr Moore said it could take up to two years to implement the enclosures, as commonwealth environmental protection legislation was triggered any time a state government wanted to take an action that impacted on protected species - in this case great white sharks.

According to the report wider meshed "gill" nets are not viable in WA as they do not provide a continuous barrier preventing sharks from accessing beach areas, and result in the capture of other marine animals, Mr Moore said.

The minister is also exploring whether the legislation could be expanded to allow fisheries officers to kill sharks that swim close to popular beaches.

At the moment under the law the minister can authorise officers to kill a shark if it presents a clear danger to people.

He said it was possible the definition of what constitutes a danger could be expanded to include sharks swimming within a few kilometres of swimming beaches.

Drum lines (baited lines set to catch sharks) were also not recommended as theykilled a rangeof animals and did not guarantee that beaches would be free of sharks.

The department is also investigating the effectiveness of placing shark repellents in the water off personal beaches, and educating people on the use of personal repellents, the minister said.

The report is available for public comment until October 31 at www.fish.wa.gov.au

The West Australian

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