Minister confirms tiger sharks are not associated with fatalities in WA

Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren says the Fisheries Minister’s answers in Parliament this week confirm that tiger sharks – by far the main species killed on drum lines to date – have not been responsible for fatal attacks in WA.

“Despite his earlier claims to the contrary in media interviews, there has never been a confirmed fatality caused by a tiger shark in WA,” Ms MacLaren said.

“The Minister yesterday conceded this in Parliament stating: ‘Of the seven fatalities in Western Australia in the past three years, it is understood that several were confirmed white shark attacks and the remainder were suspected white shark attacks. However, tiger sharks have been associated with shark attacks in Western Australia and fatalities in the rest of Australia’.

“The Minister would like to imply that tiger sharks are a problem because it is almost exclusively tiger sharks, including many juveniles, that are being caught on the drum lines, and killed, or returned to the water half-alive.

“Yet the State Government’s Shark Smart website, which Minister Baston launched in January, says: “tiger sharks may only have been responsible for one shark bite in WA since 1980”.

“We have also heard this week in Parliament that drum lining operations in the South-West over three months will cost $500,000, and that the Government is not sure what the cost lining operations off the metropolitan area will be.

“Assuming the total cost of the operations for both regions over three months amounts to around $1 million, for the same cost we could have greatly increased the scale of our shark monitoring and alert system which would increase safety for water users, rather than decrease it, as most people fear drum lines have done.”