EPA to assess extended shark drum-line proposal

Summary: The Environmental Protection Authority has set a Public Environmental Review (PER) level of assessment on the WA Shark Hazard Mitigation Drum Line Program 2014-2017 with a four-week public submission period.
Release Date: 23 April 2014

The proposal involves the temporary setting of up to 72 baited drum lines off metropolitan and south-west coastal regions of WA for four and a half months each year for three years, commencing November 15, 2014 and ceasing April 30, 2017, after which the program would be subject to review.

“Unlike this summer’s 13-and-a-half week drum-line program, the EPA will need to undertake a detailed assessment of the environmental impacts, including the cumulative impacts of implementing a 22-week program every year for three consecutive years to determine whether or not the EPA’s objectives for marine fauna can be met,” EPA Chairman Dr Paul Vogel said.

The EPA decided to assess the proposal to determine whether the environmental impacts could be managed and, if so, how.

“The new proposal was also referred to the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and we are working closely with our Commonwealth counterparts to ensure a coordinated approach. The Commonwealth is yet to make a decision on whether or not the proposal is considered to be a Controlled Action – that significant impacts are considered likely,” Dr Vogel said.

This decision, which is expected next month, would determine whether or not a bilateral assessment of the proposal would be undertaken.

There were 543 public comments on the referral registered on the EPA’s website. In addition, more than 9,000 comments were lodged with the EPA via the Conservation Council during the seven-day period. The majority of these opposed the general deployment of drum lines for catching and destroying sharks. In view of the increased duration of the proposal and the level of public interest a public review of the proposal is warranted. A four-week public review period applies.

“It is important to reiterate that the EPA has made a decision on whether or not the proposal requires an environmental impact assessment, not a decision on whether or not the Government’s policy is working,” Dr Vogel said.

“Members of the public will be invited to make submissions on the proponent’s Public Environmental Review document before the EPA releases its report and recommendations to the Minister for Environment, who will make the final decision.”

The proposal, referred on April 9 by the Department of Premier and Cabinet, would see drum lines set approximately 1km offshore from popular beaches and surfing spots within two marine monitored areas - from Ocean Reef to Port Beach in Perth and from Quindalup to Prevelly in the South-West. It includes a provision for responding to identified shark threats and incidents at any time within WA waters.

The EPA’s report and recommendations will be released later in the year and will be open to appeal.

Appeals are administered by the Appeals Convenor and determined by the Minister for Environment. A decision on implementation of the proposal is made by the Minister on the basis of the EPA’s advice and in consultation with other Ministers or decision-making authorities.

PER Facts

A proposal is assigned an assessment level of PER if:

  • it is of regional and/or State-wide significance;
  • it has several significant environmental issues or factors, some of which are considered to be complex or of a strategic nature;
  • substantial and detailed assessment of the proposal is required to determine whether and, if so, how the environmental issues could be managed; or
  • the level of public concern about the likely effects of the proposal on the environment warrants a public review period.

Download the Chairman's Determination (pdf 116 kb)

Media Contacts: Nadia Miraudo, Fiona Adolph 0400 866 450

Status: Final
Appeals close