Premier’s Position on Metro Gillnetting Spot On

Following any shark attack, there is inevitably an ill-informed call for the reintroduction of commercial gillnets between Lancelin and Mandurah under the guise of improving public safety.

Premier Mark McGowan was recently quoted as saying the reintroduction of gillnets to the metropolitan area “wouldn’t make any difference” to great white shark numbers and therefore public safety, and he is absolutely correct.

In 2007, an important decision was made by the Labor Government to remove gillnet fishing from Lancelin to Mandurah. This decision was based on sustainability and resource sharing concerns for pink snapper and dhufish.

This decision is still widely regarded by the recreational fishing community as the single most important and positive decision for recreational fishing by any Fisheries Minister.

The benefits of this decision are only now starting to be seen, with dhufish and pink snapper stocks showing signs of recovery.

Dhufish stocks are starting to show signs of recovery.

Every time there is a call for the reintroduction of the metropolitan shark fishery Recfishwest is inundated with calls from concerned fishers who are worried the great fishery they have worked so hard to rebuild is about to be impacted again by gillnets.

Recfishwest cares deeply about public safety and supports the State Government in taking practical steps to improve safety measures related to sharks in WA.

However, in absence of evidence linking gillnet fishing to improved safety, Recfishwest will strongly oppose any attempt to re-introduce gillnet fishing to metropolitan waters.

Recfishwest actively promotes boating and water safety initiatives as we believe all West Aussies should return home safe at the end of a day’s fishing.

WA’s 140,000 recreational boat fishing licence holders have a role to play as eyes on the water especially in the early reporting of shark sightings to Water Police on 9442 8600.

The facts:

• There is zero evidence to suggest gillnet fishing will lead to improved safety outcomes for the community;

• The majority of shark fatalities in WA have occurred in areas where gillnet fishing still occurs;

• Waters Lancelin to Mandurah was closed to gillnetting in 2007 to protect dhufish and pink snapper stocks and a $5 million dollar compensation package was made available to commercial fishers at the time by the State Government;

• Shark fishing with gillnets outside metro waters uses a small mesh net and lands almost 1000 tonnes of small sharks annually. The mesh used is far too small to effectively catch large sharks;

• Any reintroduction of gillnets to Perth waters will jeopardise the recovery of pink snapper and dhufish stocks and is unlikely to capture a single “problem” shark.