Fishermen fear action from kill opponents
Fishermen fear action from kill opponents

Commercial fishermen are increasingly questioning what the State Government will do if opponents of a policy to catch and kill big sharks carry out a threat to disrupt drum lines and their activities.

It came as doubt emerged about whether the fishermen would be able to set 72 drum lines off Perth and South West beaches by Friday as the Government had planned.

Sharks don't deter divers

West Coast Eagles star Nic Naitanui weighed into the debate on Monday night, indicating on his Twitter account that he opposed the policy. He was backed by former international rugby union and rugby league player Wendell Sailor.

"Curious what everyone's thought are on culling WA's sharks #ianitforit," Naitanui posted for his 50,000 Twitter followers.

Tenders closed for the shark contracts on Friday. The Government acknowledged that announcing any winners would depend on whether they had "strictly" complied with proposed criteria.

A Government spokesman said though the "tender evaluation process" was continuing, it was hoped the contracts could be awarded and drum lines set by Friday. However, the uncertainty added to growing confusion among fishermen about what protection they would receive if protesters tried to disrupt their work.

Individuals and groups including West Australians for Shark Conservation have vowed to "neutralise" drum lines unless the Government backed away from the policy.

The Government has insisted anyone unlawfully "interfering" with fishing gear faced a fine of up to $25,000 and 12 months jail but some operators have called for a police presence on boats.

One fisherman who tendered said he wanted assurances he and his crew would be protected from hardline opponents of the policy.

Another operator who had applied for a contract - and who declined to be named - was less worried but said they would expect authorities to fully investigate any incident.

The operator also criticised policy opponents, querying why they were protesting against the deployment of drum lines in WA when Queensland had used them since the 1960s.

"I just wonder why the fuss - is it only WA sharks they care about," the operator said.

WA Police declined to comment.

The West Australian

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