SHARK HUNT BEGINS IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Wednesday, 9 January 2013

West Australian Fisheries officers are determined to catch and kill a great white shark suspected of having established itself at unpatrolled swimming beaches along the southwest coast since Christmas. Fisheries staff in two boats have this week set baited lines for the 3-4m shark under a standing order from Fisheries Minister Norman Moore to kill any shark that poses an imminent threat.

If they succeed, it would be the first government-ordered shark kill since the Barnett government introduced the "imminent threat" guidelines last year in response to five fatal shark attacks in just 10 months. The Fisheries Department made the decision on Sunday because it believes repeated shark sightings in the southwest since Christmas are in fact just one shark.

There have been sightings close to shore almost every day for the past 10 days around Quindalup and Meelup beaches, Eagle Bay and Bunker Bay in the Dunsborough-Cape Naturaliste area, 250km south of Perth.

Baited lines have been set for sharks twice before by fisheries officers -- once after the death of diver Peter Kurmann, 33, near the southern town of Bunbury in April, and after American George Thomas Wainwright, 32, was killed by a shark while scuba diving off Rottnest Island in 2011.

Tony Cappelluti, from the Fisheries Department's shark response unit, said his team was almost certain they were seeing the same shark. "Our assessment is there's a shark of 3-4m, and it's a white shark, which is high risk, in the area," Mr Cappelluti said.

"My understanding is it has come as close at 20-50m, and possibly in areas where not all beaches are going to be patrolled. "(So) we've deemed it to be an imminent threat under the guidelines because there's possibly going to be people in areas we can't get to or can't guarantee we can mitigate the risk by getting them out of the water and keeping them out of the water."

Professional fishermen have praised the government for taking action. But the Conservation Council of WA questioned the imminent threat.



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