Strong concerns about Fisheries’ advice on drum lining plan

Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren has questioned advice given by the WA Department of Fisheries on the impacts of drum lining for three more years on WA’s marine life, saying it contradicts national documents published as recently as last year on the status of great white shark populations off Western Australia.

“The Premier, via his Department of Premier and Cabinet, has submitted a plan to both State and Federal environmental agencies outlining his intention to cull sharks in WA waters for another three summers,” Ms MacLaren said.

“Buried in the more than 30 attachments to his proposal to these agencies is a document produced by the WA Department of Fisheries which outlines the Department’s advice about what impact drum lining will have on sharks and other species.

“I find a number of the comments in the Department of Fisheries’ advice surprising and unsubstantiated.

“The comments contradict credible scientific advice, such as the national ‘Recovery Plan for the White Shark’, published by the Federal Government in 2013, as well as  the South-west Marine Bioregional Plan, released by the Federal Government in 2012.

“The Department of Fisheries contributed to both national plans but now seems to have a new view on the status of the great white shark population off WA without any new evidence having been produced or yet subjected to scientific scrutiny.

“I urge both the WA Environmental Protection Authority and the Federal Department of Environment to look further than the attachments provided by the WA Government for evidence when deciding how to assess the Premier’s drum lining proposal.

“After all, as the current operator of drum line currently off the metropolitan area and with a Minister who has acted, hand in hand with the Premier as chief enthusiast for drum lining, the Department of Fisheries’ ability to provide independent advice on the environmental impacts on drum lining has been compromised.

“This is a sad day for a Department that still says on its website that its ‘primary responsibility is to conserve, develop and manage the fish and aquatic resources of Western Australia to ensure there are fish for the future’.”