The Spot and Yanchep beach not on minister’s radar

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly did not respond when asked if The Spot and Yanchep could be included in the smart drum line trial. Picture: Anita McInnes

QUESTIONS about shark mitigation measures for The Spot, which is popular with surfers and abalone fishers, and Yanchep beach have gone unanswered by the McGowan Government.

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly responded to some questions about the rolling out of smart drum line strategy, which the state government said this week it would trial for 12 months after previously rejecting the technology.

But Mr Kelly did not answer when asked if the government would consider a smart drum line trail in the Yanchep-Two Rocks area at the same time as the Gracetown trial, which would allow a south of the metropolitan area focus and a northern suburb focus to the trial.

Mr Kelly also said the government’s decision to trial the smart drum line strategy did not have anything to do with the CSIRO report in February highlighting that researchers do not know the total number of white sharks off the WA coast – Number of juvenile white sharks unknown, Yanchep News Online, February 11.

The report said researchers did not know the total number of white sharks off the WA coast because they did not know how many juvenile white sharks there are in the southern-western population due to there being no identified nursery grounds where samples of juveniles could be collected.

Yanchep News Online asked if the catching and tagging of juvenile white sharks was something the government hoped adopting the smart drum line strategy would allow but this also went unanswered.

Mr Kelly said the decision to trial smart drum lines came after the information provided by the NSW government on their trial was insufficient to determine the effectiveness of smart drumlines and guide a long-term financial investment for WA’s coastline.

“Important information such as where the sharks went after they were released, such as do they come back to shore in a short period of time, was not provided,’’ he said.

“The trial will be subject to an independent scientific assessment by chief scientist Peter Klinken.

“We hope information from the trial will help us better understand sharks and as WA has always done, we will share our findings with our relevant collaborators.

“Consistent with the NSW trial, the WA trial will be a catch, tag, relocate and release program. It isn’t intended to kill sharks.

“All fatal and serious shark bites since 2000 have been attributed to white sharks and therefore they will be the target species for this program.

“The trial will be conducted in the Gracetown area and it is expected to last for at least 12 months. “Final details and costs will be determined and announced in the coming weeks.

“Gracetown has been chosen as the preferred location because since 2004 there have been three fatalities in Gracetown – more than any other location in the state – as a result of a shark attack involving a white shark.

“The McGowan Government’s shark mitigation policies are based on science and research, and a long-term decision on smart drumlines will be no different.

“The state government is constantly looking for new initiatives that are backed by science to bolster the comprehensive shark mitigation strategy that is already in place.

“There is nothing new to comment on at this stage.”

A 2017 Senate report Shark mitigation and deterrent measures said the committee was advised drum lines use circle hooks which allow sharks ‘to move around in a circle; therefore, [the hook] allows water to get into the gills and oxygenate the shark’.

“When a shark is captured, a response team is alerted and responds to ‘tag and potentially relocate the shark’,’’ the report said.

“The smart drum lines used in NSW are ‘only deployed when a team is on hand for immediate response’.

“In addition, mullet is used as bait with the aim to ‘reduce the attraction of, and interaction with, other marine mammals (whales, dugongs and dolphins), seabirds and marine reptiles (turtles)’.’’