Our officers and the WA Police, with support from the Department of Environment and Conservation, Rottnest Island Authority, coastal Local Government Authorities (ranger services) and the frontline of beach safety – Surf Life Saving WA – all play their part to keep swimmers safe.
Surf lifesavers are watching from the beaches, on the water and in the air and public officers are ready to respond to sightings and incidents.
Shark hazard plan
We manage the Western Australia's Shark Hazard Response Plan which is designed to reduce the risk of shark interactions at WA beaches. The plan involves several government agencies, local councils and community groups, including surf lifesavers.
Our staff are rostered to respond to shark sightings issued by SMS from Water Police and assume the role of Operations Manager. Where possible, the Operations Manager makes contact with the person making the report to ascertain further details and confirm information received in the SMS.
The Operations Manager then performs a risk assessment of the best available information and assesses the reported shark sighting as a lower or higher risk to the public. The type of information and factors included in the risk assessment include the size of shark, species if known, distance from shore, location, whether other people are recreating nearby and any other relevant information.
In all shark sightings and incidents, the Water Police act as the first point of call and initiate the first response.
WA Police is the Hazard Management Authority for sea search and rescue in Western Australia. The Water Police’s role is to receive calls and coordinate search and rescue operations from their base in North Fremantle.
If a serious shark incident occurs, WA Police will act as the lead agency.
Sea search and rescue operations are undertaken in conjunction with FESA Marine Volunteers, Department of Transport, Surf Life Saving WA, and local government authorities.
Shark sighting and response procedure
Surf Life Saving and local authorities
SLSWA and local government authorities (LGAs) are responsible for beach patrols and beach safety and will sound beach alarms, clear the water and close beaches if required, following a shark sighting or incident.
SLSWA also has Statewide standard operating procedures for shark sightings, including guidelines on when to clear the water and close a beach and how long a beach should remain closed.
LGAs will clear the water and close the beaches if required, following a sighting or incident. Standardised beach closure signs will be deployed by LGAs, if beaches are closed following shark sightings/incidents.
Details on patrols for your WA beaches can be obtained from Surf Life Saving WA.
Helicopter shark surveillance
The State Government has expanded the Western Australian helicopter shark patrol service in 2011/12. Helicopters are fitted with GPS technology that can be used to pinpoint potential sightings, as well as a siren to alert swimmers and the latest communication equipment to alert surf lifesavers on the beach and Water Police.
Surf Living Saving WA’s rescue helicopter covers the metropolitan area from Dawesville in the south to Yanchep/Capricorn in the north. Patrols also sweep Rottnest Island at weekends and during school holidays.
Weather permitting, the service provides 189 flying days patrolling WA beaches.
A second SLSWA helicopter undertakes patrols from Bunbury to Margaret River from late November to the end of January.