Shark deterrent study makes headway in tackling WA’s frustrating bite-off issue

A recfishing licence-funded project exploring shark deterrent technology to address the mounting shark issue in WA’s north has delivered positive results.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development-led (DPIRD) study found shark depredation can decrease by as much as 65 per cent when a deterrent is used.

WATCH: 7NEWS Perth speaks with Exmouth fishers about the shark issue 

Steve Riley spoke to 7NEWS last night, 16 August, regarding the shark issue in WA’s north.

DPIRD’s research team — led by DPIRD Principal Fisheries Research Scientist Dr Gary Jackson — tested three different shark deterrents as part of the research.

Cameras were attached to fishing lines to film bait and fish being hit by sharks.

Findings from the study, backed by the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund (RFIF), show while deterrents do not stop sharks taking every fish, the devices enable fishers to land a greater proportion of hooked fish.

However, a deterrent’s effectiveness is also influenced by the number of sharks chasing a hooked fish.

FLASHBACK: See the footage from DPIRD’s bite-off research

“Shark bite-offs are without doubt the number one issue impacting recfishing experiences in WA, north of Geraldton,” Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said.

“We recognise this is a complex issue and one for which the solution must be led by science. While there isn’t a silver bullet, improved understanding of shark populations and behavior, adoption of emerging deterrent technology and fisher education are key elements to address the issue and protect the social and economic benefits fishing provides.

“It’s been good to see DPIRD’s fishery scientists travelling across WA’s north last month, as part of a regional roadshow discussing their shark deterrent testing and analysis.”

The ‘taxman’ beat Liam Pascoe to this snapper while he was fishing in the Gascoyne.

Science holds the solution

Speaking with On Strike Charters owner Josh Bruynzeel and Exmouth Tackle and Camping owner Steve Riley, 7NEWS reported the shark issue was “an epidemic off our North West coast”.

While there currently is no solution, fishers can play their part and reduce the chance of bite-off by breaking up the predictability of fishing spots and moving spots regularly.

Dr Rowland said Recfishwest shared fishers’ frustrations regarding the shark issue.

“We will continue to push DPIRD to draw on their world-class fisheries science research capability to better understand how shark populations and behaviours have changed,” he said.

“The deterrent findings are encouraging but better science, the use of emerging technology, behaviour change and adaptive management hold the key to solving this issue.

“In COVID times, fishing is more important than ever and recfishing in WA contributes $2.4 billion to the economy each year – fishers deserve better than to see sharks destroying fishing experiences.”

For Kimberley fishers, including Wade Clark, sharks are becoming increasingly frustrating.

Continue Reading

February 28, 2024

Salmon Slam is back for 2024!

Scanning waves off  epic southern beaches for large black patches, launching lures out the back of the surf and doing spectacular battle with tough-fighting fish – yep, it’s salmon time again! It’…

Read More

February 28, 2024

Keep up to date on South Coast Marine Parks with Recfishwest updates

We were on the South Coast last week talking to local fishers like Mitchell Waideman and hearing their concerns about the State Government’s South Coast Marine Parks proposals. Hear what Esperance Land Based…

Read More

February 27, 2024

Great monthly prizes up for grabs in 2024 for Recfishwest members!

As a thank you to our cast of thousands of Recfishwest free and premium members for their support, we’re giving away some cracking prizes every month courtesy of our partners Shimano!  Shimano has not only…

Read More

February 27, 2024

Tuna already tuned in to Recfishwest’s new exclusive members’ lure – the Fish Catcher 3000!

Recfishwest’s latest membership lure started its journey from inside the creative mind of a ten-year-old, then travelled to the Halco lure production team before finding itself inside a tuna’s mouth in…

Read More

February 27, 2024

Cherished South-West fishing platform reopened thanks to Shire of Dardanup’s heroics

A big Recfishwest shout out to the Shire of Dardanup for restoring a much-loved and popular jetty for the South-West community and recognising how important it is for the well-being of fishers.  Back in May of 2023…

Read More

February 22, 2024

Metro southern garfish ban lifted

In good news for metro anglers, the ban on southern garfish from Lancelin to Myalup is due to be lifted from Friday 1 March.   The ban was implemented in 2017 after an assessment by the Fisheries Department showed…

Read More