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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Tuesday 10 March 2020

Phone hook-up investigates scaly problem of shark bite-offs

    • ​Shark depredation has significant economic and social impact on State's fishers
    • Recfishing licence fees will fund project to identify effective mitigation methods
    • New survey aims to identify methods fishers use to reduce bite-offs
    • Scientific analysis over course of project will include at-sea trials

Anecdotal evidence has suggested that sharks are taking up to 70 per cent of the fish hooked by recreational fishers before they can be landed; either in a boat or onshore.

'Bite-offs' as they are known, can have significant economic and social impacts, and represent the ultimate 'one that got away' story for not only recreational fishers, but also commercial fishers and charter boat operators in the State's north.

However, a Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund (RFIF) grant of $351,555 is angling for solutions. Identifying useful mitigation strategies or effective devices could reel in the growing problem of bite-offs. 

An Edith Cowan University phone survey team is currently canvassing fishers and charter boat operators to identify techniques or devices used to successfully combat shark depredation.

Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley has welcomed the project's scientific assessment process - including at-sea testing of ideas and devices that show merit. 

Successful mitigation techniques, including use of deterrent devices, will be formally tested this year at a range of locations where shark bite-offs are an issue. Centres close to these locations in regional Western Australia will host a series of workshops next year.

One of the devices listed for assessment on how well it deters sharks was designed for fishers by Ocean Guardian.

The company also makes the two shark deterrents already approved under the McGowan Government's rebate scheme to support surfers, divers and ocean users.

Other devices flagged for evaluation in this Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) project use amplified sound and magnets close to the hooks to deter sharks.   

Comments attributed to Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley:

"The current phone survey will be crucial in collating fishers' experiences of shark bite-offs and identifying deterrent methods that work and can be tested and evaluated.

"Shark depredation has an impact on recreational fishers, commercial operators and the charter sector. Finding solutions to reduce the problem is the whole aim of this project undertaken by DPIRD researchers.

"The $351,555 grant has come from the RFIF and puts money from recreational licence fees to work to target a significant issue for many fishers."

Minister's office - 6552 5300

Last modified: 10/03/2020 1:25 PM

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