Ministerial Media Statement

Norman Moore
Minister for Mines and Petroleum; Fisheries; Electoral Affairs

Sun 15 July, 2012

WA to look at white shark protection status

Portfolio: Fisheries

  • Fisheries Minister to seek Federal Govt research on white shark protection
  • WA dealing with an unprecedented spate of shark attack fatalities
  • Call for a review of the protection status for white sharks

Fisheries Minister Norman Moore today announced he will be writing to the Federal Government this week urgently seeking clarification about the white shark’s status as a protected species, following the fifth fatal attack in Western Australia since September 2011.

“It is absolutely tragic that in just 10 months, five people have lost their lives to white sharks,” Mr Moore said.

“Each attack has resulted in severe or sustained injuries with no chance of survival for the victim.”

The Minister said the State Government was spending $13.65million on a range of initiatives to deal with shark safety awareness, responses and research.  That funding package included $9.9million over five years for Surf Life Saving helicopter services in Perth and WA’s South-West, $2.05million over five years for the Shark Response Unit and its projects and $1.7million to fund four major shark research projects.

“There is no documented level of fatal attacks attributed to white sharks in such a short time and geographic location, anywhere in the world, than what we have experienced in WA and further action is necessary to deal with it,” he said.

“One critical piece of information missing is an accurate estimate of white shark populations in Australia.  Through latest genetic work published, we know that white sharks occur in Australian waters in two sub-populations:  East Coast and New Zealand; and South Australia and WA.”

White sharks have been a protected species for more than a decade, since International Union for Conservation of Nature identified them as vulnerable.  The Federal Government’s White Shark Recovery Plan was released in 2002 and reviewed in 2008.  That review found insufficient evidence to confirm an increase in species abundance.

Mr Moore said the WA Government was urgently requesting the Federal Government share with WA what research data its agencies possessed that could be used for white shark population assessments and any outcomes of population assessments that might have been undertaken in the past by the Commonwealth.

“We need to know if there has been any update on the status of the white sharks and the sustainability level at which the Federal Government will lift protection.  I would also like to know if the Commonwealth is considering revising any policy,” he said.

Source: Government of Western Australia