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Staying Safe

Even though shark encounters are rare, here are some common sense tips to help reduce the risk of one happening.  

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Shark Incidents & Serious Threat

Shark Incidents & Serious Threat

29 September 2016

Government agencies and local land managers are working together to make our beaches safer. Together we have developed strong operational responses for when a shark is considered to be posing a serious threat to public safety.

Emergency management 

When an emergency involving a serious shark incident occurs, Water Police acts as the first point of call and activates the relevant responders.

WA Police (Water Police) is the Hazard Management Authority for marine search and rescue in Western Australia, and acts as the lead agency to receive calls and coordinate search and rescue operations from its base in North Fremantle. Sea search and rescue operations are undertaken with Department of Fire and Emergency Services Marine Volunteers, Department of Transport, Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA), and Local Governments . 

When requested, the Department of Fisheries provides operational support to response agencies, and monitoring following a shark incident.  

Serious threat

The Department of Fisheries has protocols and procedures to prepare for, and respond to, serious threat incidents. This includes a network of regionally placed assets which can assist in monitoring an area after a shark bite incident.  

The Serious Threat guidelines were revised in April 2017, and drum lines will no longer be set pre-emptively, or automatically deployed in response to shark incidents. However, in exceptional circumstances, the Director General of the Department of Fisheries will still have the ability to give an order to set capture gear if other measures have failed to address risks to public safety. 

Publically available guidelines outline when this may occur.  This could include where a shark remains in a localised area and all attempts to relocate or remove the shark have been unsuccessful, and the presence of the shark remains a genuine threat. In exercising the powers the Director General will place public safety as the first priority. 

For the safety of everyone involved, there is a 100m exclusion zone around capture gear and vessels taking part in serious threat response operations. The Department of Fisheries has also boosted its shark incident response capacity in the South-West with vessels now stationed in Bunbury, Busselton and Margaret River. 

Beach closures  

At unpatrolled beaches, Local Government beach inspectors, Rangers or security may respond to information of a shark sighting, detection or incident and close beach car parks, put up closed signs or inform water users.

Remember these staff are usually not stationed at beaches full time, and may not be able to attend immediately. In regional or remote locations a response may not be possible, so it’s a good idea to check for the latest information available on the shark activity map and take responsibility for making a smart decision about your water use.

 

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