Media Release

Department of Fisheries, Western Australia

Monday 7 January 2013


Fisheries Officers target shark threat in South West

Department of Fisheries officers have set shark capture gear in the State’s south west after repeated shark sightings indicated there was an imminent threat to water users in the popular beach, surfing and diving areas around Bunker Bay.

Department of Fisheries Regional Manager Metro, Tony Cappelluti said there had been multiple shark sightings in the waters off Dunsborough including at Quindalup, Bunker Bay and Meelup for over a week.

Mr Cappelluti said the unprecedented shark activity around the south west over the Christmas and New Year period meant the State Government’s policy for sharks posing an imminent threat was being met.

Some of the key factors considered under the policy guidelines included the following;

High Hazard

  • White sharks are a species with a history of attacking people and have been involved with most fatal attacks in Western Australia.
  • In addition to a multitude of sightings in the south west, there has been at least one confirmed sighting of a 3-4m shark recorded everyday around Dunsborough (i.e. between Bunker Bay and Quindalup) since Thursday 27 December.
  • The only exceptions were Monday 31 December, (when sightings were recorded at Injidup Point, Gracetown and Margaret River) and Friday 4 January when the large swell and poor water visibility made sightings particularly difficult.
  • All sightings have been identified as a white shark or unknown species, with most sightings confirmed by Surf Life Saving WA or Fisheries officers.

High Risk

  • The sightings have occurred at various depths, with numerous sightings in shallow water including some as close as 20m from shore.
  • The sightings have all occurred within proximity of popular swimming beaches during daylight hours.
  • Many people have been frequenting the beaches during the current holiday period with warm temperatures and winds from the south west making Dunsborough beaches more sheltered than beaches between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin.

Mr Cappelluti said measures to negate the threat of shark attack have been taken following sightings.

“These measures have included beach closures, additional helicopter surveillance, reporting of sightings, and on water surveillance; however it is recognised that there are many areas in the region which are not patrolled, and this has contributed to the action taken over the past few days.

“The repeated confirmed sightings and pattern of behaviour during the peak holiday season is particularly concerning.

“Therefore an order was issued for Department of Fisheries staff to set hooks and lines with a view to catching and destroying a white shark if a confirmed shark sighting occurred.

“The department has had two vessels on the waters around Dunsborough with the capacity to set hooks and lines.  The larger vessel (the PV Hamelin) has the capacity to retrieve and destroy a shark if required.

The Department of Fisheries is working closely with SLSWA, the Department for Environment and Conservation and local authorities.

Mr Cappelluti said it was important the community continued to report shark sightings to the Water Police on 9442 8600.

Source: Department of Fisheries, Western Australia


14. January 2013  Imminent threat order near Dunsborough rescinded