Green light for summer 2014 drum line operation warrants re-examination

Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren says confirmation by the CSIRO this week that shark culling was unacceptable on environmental and scientific grounds raises fresh questions about why the 2014 drum line trial went ahead without any form of environment assessment.

“I have questions and concerns about Department of Fisheries’ advice that stated that there was no serious risk to shark populations from the WA drum line operations – this being advice that the Department gave in both January 2014 about the 2014 program and in April about the three-year proposal,” Ms MacLaren said.

“I am also concerned at the fact that the Department of Premier and Cabinet, which was the proponent of the cull, did not refer its 2014 program to the WA Environmental Protection Authority for assessment, as clearly killing sharks is a ‘significant’ proposal as defined under the WA Environmental Protection (EP) Act 1986.

“According to the EP Act, both the Department of Fisheries as the relevant decision making authority and DPC as the proponent should have referred the 2014 cull to the EPA, yet they omitted to do so.

“The EPA should also have recognized the cull was a ‘significant’ proposal under the Act and self-referred it yet it also omitted to do so.

“In the end, it was up to an anonymous individual, five weeks after the cull was first announced to the media, to refer the proposal to the EPA, but based on what has now been confirmed as flawed advice from Fisheries, the EPA decided that the cull did not need more assessment.

“As a result, 172 sharks, all of which are supposedly protected under WA laws, died a slow death.

“The roles played by Fisheries, the EPA and the Department of Premier and Cabinet in this all warrant closer examination and the Greens are exploring options for this.

“Certainly both Fisheries’ and the EPA’s public reputation as agencies responsible for ensuring the sustainable management of our environment have been damaged by this fiasco.”