Shark fishing will be restricted on beaches from Fremantle to Cottesloe after local residents warned it was attracting predators to popular swimming beaches.
WARNING: This story contains content that some people may find distressing.
- Shark fishing spotted on beach in WA’s latest deadly shark attack
- The WA government has now banned the practices used to catch sharks
- Fremantle council is also considering a ban on shark fishing
The wife of Paul Millachip, who was killed by a shark at Port Beach in November, has welcomed the state government’s decision, but some swimmers fear a loophole could allow shark fishing to continue.
Ms Millachip, who does not want her first name used, was unimpressed by people fishing for sharks on the same beach her husband was taken to.
“It’s very sad to effectively and deliberately attract sharks to the area where people are trying to swim safely,” she said.
The local swim club raised the shark fishing alarm
The issue was highlighted when the ABC revealed footage of a tiger shark being dragged back across the sand at Port Beach, bleeding and still alive, and just feet away from swimmers.
Locals, including swimmers from the Port Beach Polar Bears group, sounded the alarm, warning it would lead to another deadly attack.
They said fishermen used offal containing berley to attract sharks, then slaughtered them on the beach.
It is not illegal to fish for tiger sharks off Perth metropolitan beaches, if there are no local government restrictions.
There were no local laws banning the practice in Fremantle, but the council announced last week that it would consider banning shark fishing on all of its beaches in response to growing community concern.
The state government is now also addressing these concerns by banning line marks on fishing gear, primarily used for shark fishing, from Port Beach to South Cottesloe.
Violators face fines of $1,000 and the confiscation of their equipment.
Shark fishing ‘puts the public at risk’
Fisheries Minister Don Punch said it was about putting public safety first.
“It is not appropriate for people to put berley and offal in a swimming beach environment which has the potential to attract larger sharks,” Mr Punch said.
“There is a small percentage of people who act very irresponsibly in the way they fish for sharks and that puts the public at risk and we have acted on that.”
The minister said the ban could be extended to other beaches if requested by local governments.
Ms Millachip said she hoped the measures would pass along the coast.
“And I think these measures are a big step towards achieving that.”
Fremantle council mulls its own initiative to protect beaches
The proposed ban by the City of Fremantle is broader than the government restriction and will continue to protect other beaches.
But Fremantle Mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge said fisheries officers have much greater powers to enforce the new regulations.
“For the safety of our community, for the safety of beach users, this is a much better measure,” Ms Fitzhardinge said.
Geoff Webster of Port Beach Polar Bears said it’s nice the council and government have taken action.
But he had doubts about the cable-tracing ban, which he said could be circumvented by shark fishermen.
“If it includes a no-fishing-with-steel-trace clause because anglers can get around that by using tough polymers, nylon or braid,” Mr Webster said.
The minister sought to reassure swimmers, saying banning wire traces was the most immediate way to stop shark fishing.
“If people continue to target large sharks without a trace of wire, they run the risk of being banned from fishing on these beaches,” he said.
Recfishwest chief executive Andrew Roland noted that these were temporary measures until a longer-term and more ambitious solution could be put in place.
“We look forward to longer-term management results that involve proper consultation with a range of stakeholders so that we strike the right balance and this is perhaps something that could be extended further in the metropolitan area. “, did he declare.
The government is also considering a total ban on shark fishing at bathing beaches, similar to that which already exists in the town of Cottesloe.
But for Ms Millachip, that would not be enough to put her back in the water.
“I think it would be really good in the Perth metropolitan area if we had more swim nets,” she said.
“I’ve only been in the water a few times since Paul was attacked, and I swam inside the shark swim net in Coogee because that’s the only place I felt safe. security.
“And I would be very hesitant to go back into the water here in Port [beach] now.”