A controversial $1.28 million program to catch and kill sharks off Western Australia’s coast should continue for another three years, a state government review has found.
But the report also recommends the government should continue to be receptive to new fully tested and viable technologies to complement or ultimately replace baited hooks.
The Department of Premier and Cabinet was required to undertake the review in order to receive federal government approval to extend the program for another three years, running between November 15 and April 30.
Premier Colin Barnett said the review found the program, which was trialled over 14 weeks last summer, had significantly less environmental impact than other shark control programs around the world.
Mr Barnett said the only non-shark species hooked under the program were seven rays and one North West blowfish.
But of the 172 sharks caught – none of which were great whites – only 50 were over the designated three-metre kill length.
“The WA drum line program was in response to 10 deaths in 10 years – that’s seven in three-and-a-half years – which was significantly more than any other Australian state,” Mr Barnett said.
Mr Barnett said authorities running shark control programs on Reunion Island off the coast of Madagascar and in South Africa had shown interest in WA’s program.
“It appears that our program is well regarded by those who have been operating shark control programs for considerably longer than WA.”
The review also recommends additional training for contractors on animal handling techniques and responding to activists, as well as using acoustic pingers to deter whales and dolphins from the hooks.
A public environment review is open for feedback until July 7.