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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Shark research

Five major research projects have been completed to better understand white sharks in Western Australia and the likely effectiveness of any community safety interventions. These include:

  1. The Western Australian Government conducted a two-year scientific trial of non-lethal Shark-Management-Alert-in-Real-Time (SMART) drumlines to assess the effectiveness of SMART drumlines in reducing the risk of shark attacks. Due to the low number of white sharks caught, it was not possible to demonstrate the effectiveness of SMART drumlines as a shark mitigation measure in the unique Western Australian conditions. Read more in Fisheries Occasional Publication No. 140 and Fisheries Occasional Publication 139.
  2. A world class shark monitoring and tagging project. The Shark Monitoring Network was implemented to collect information about white shark movements off our coast. Including the pilot phase, the project extended over seven years at a cost of $3 million dollars. The results, released in April 2016, show that white sharks can exhibit rapid, extensive movements around the Western Australian coast with some seasonality in their abundance off the metropolitan coast. As their movements are mostly uncoordinated, this limits general predictions of when human encounters with this species could be likely. View Fisheries Research Report. 273, 2016.
  3. A correlation study of the potential risk factors associated with white shark attacks in Western Australian waters explores possible links between shark sightings, interactions or attacks and locations, weather conditions, water temperatures and the activity of other marine mammals that might attract sharks.
    View Fisheries Occasional Publication 109, November 2012.
  4. A review of white shark population numbers. A study has been conducted to reconstruct the levels of annual catch of white sharks by commercial and recreational fishing since 1938 and to combine this data with life-history information to develop a series of population trajectory scenarios. These scenarios varied markedly and the report has identified the need for further investigation. View Fisheries Research Report No. 277, 2016.
  5. A beach netting study. This review looked at the effectiveness of shark meshing and shark exclusion barriers implemented in other areas of the world and the likelihood of these initiatives being successful in WA. The study was conducted by Queensland’s Bond University. The report found that shark nets and drumlines were not recommended. Instead swimming enclosures (referred to as shark enclosures) provide a complete physical barrier that prevents sharks entering an area without killing the sharks or other marine life. A trial of swimming enclosures has since been funded by the Office of Science. View Fisheries Occasional Publication 108, August 2012.

Further information about shark research can be found on the SharkSmart website.  

Last modified: 13/05/2021 12:55 PM

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