Regulations to rule out tourism ventures based on attracting sharks
Research shows potential for these operations to change shark behaviour
State policy set for potential operators
Fisheries Minister Norman Moore today announced that regulations were being drafted for a State ban on targeted or dedicated shark tourism ventures, including cage diving operations, based on the attraction of sharks.
“I have decided that Western Australia will not be the place for shark cage tourism, like those currently operating in South Australia and South Africa,” Mr Moore said.
“There have been no formal applications for such ventures in WA as yet, but I have acted to let any potential operators know this State’s policy.
“While such ventures may generate direct or indirect economic benefits, there are also concerns that sustained activities to attract sharks to feeding opportunities have the potential to change the behaviour patterns of those sharks.”
The Minister said South Australia and South Africa had cage diving operations at specific sites where white sharks were known to form significant aggregations, but WA did not have any known areas where sharks congregated.
“Lack of such sites in WA may result in operators wanting to maximise berleying and baiting to attract sharks to meet tourist expectations, which may have unwanted consequences,” he said.
“CSIRO research at shark cage diving sites in South Australia found that white sharks in the study area changed their distribution to align with areas of active berleying and, while there was no determination from the study about the longer term effects on shark behaviour or outside the study area, I would prefer to take no risks until more is known.
“With four fatalities in WA from shark interactions, since last September, the Government is not willing to allow any ventures that may raise even greater public fears than already exist.”
Mr Moore said the State Government had responded to community concerns by providing $13.65million across four years to reduce the risk of shark attacks by delivering comprehensive action to mitigate the hazards through increased awareness and extended research.
“A Shark Response Unit has been set up by the Department of Fisheries to co-ordinate shark mitigation operations and research and a community engagement strategy is also being developed to increase general knowledge about shark safety and to work with public agencies and stakeholders to enhance preparedness and responses to shark hazards,” Mr Moore said.
Minister’s office - 6552 5400