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US shark tag experts plead with Buswell
Tagged: US research group wants to study WA sharks. Picture: OCEACH

A US shark research group has pleaded with Fisheries Minister Troy Buswell to let it do a $1.35 million scientific expedition to tag and study great whites.

OCEARCH has tagged 70 sharks around the US, South America and South Africa using a pioneering tagging technique, which involves lifting a shark out of the water for 15 minutes to fit it with four monitoring devices.

The not-for-profit organisation's founder Chris Fischer said that he wrote to Mr Buswell this week to offer OCEARCH's research vessel to do 50 days and $1.35 million of shark research with WA scientists.

"You have a public safety issue in WA and the simple fact is that every single thing possible in the world to make sure we have as much information to assist the public in making choices is not being done," he said.

Five people were killed in shark attacks off WA in the 10 months to July last year. Just over two weeks ago a shark mauled abalone diver Greg Pickering off the south coast.

Mr Fischer said OCEARCH mapped the migratory routes and breeding patterns of sharks and could do the same with WA's great white shark population.

He said sharks were tagged with devices including an internal acoustic tag that lasted 10 years and a fin locator tag that lasted five years.

Tagged sharks can be tracked on the OCEARCH website. WA Government shark scientists have also begun inserting acoustic tags with a decade-long life span internally in sharks.

Mr Fischer said he had been trying for an expedition in Australia for the past year.

The Federal Government has declined OCEARCH's offers because it said the group's tagging methods were not consistent with its shark-handling protocols.

"While we are open to the possibility of OCEARCH coming to WA and supporting WA scientists, we have not received a specific proposal from Mr Fischer," Mr Buswell said yesterday.