EPA recommends Shark Hazard Mitigation Drum Line proposal should not be implemented

Summary: The Environmental Protection Authority has today announced it has recommended the Western Australian Shark Hazard Mitigation Drum Line Program 2014-2017 proposal should not be implemented.
Release Date: 11 September 2014

Following rigorous examination of the proposal, Chairman Dr Paul Vogel said there remains a high degree of scientific uncertainty about impacts on the viability of the south-western white shark population.

“At this stage, the available information and evidence does not provide the EPA with a high level of confidence. In view of these uncertainties, the EPA has adopted a cautious approach by recommending against the proposal,” Dr Vogel said.

The EPA assessed the program as a Public Environmental Review (PER) - the highest and most thorough level of Environmental Impact Assessment. The proposal attracted 6,751 public submissions as well as two petitions with a total of about 25,000 signatures.

The independent board tested the potential impacts of the proposal against the environmental objective for Marine Fauna, which is to “maintain the diversity, geographic distribution and viability of fauna at the species and population levels”. The assessment had particular regard to the white shark because it is listed as a migratory species and ‘vulnerable’ under both state and commonwealth environment legislation.

Dr Vogel said the EPA asked the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to provide a Peer Review of the proponent’s PER document, a response to EPA questions as well as a Close Out Report on the proponent’s response to the public submissions.

“Despite the proponent’s best efforts to make conservative and plausible estimates, the advice received from the CSIRO stated there remained too much uncertainty in the available information and evidence about the south-western white shark population, population trends and the bycatch from commercial fisheries,” Dr Vogel said.

“After careful deliberation, the EPA has concluded that there is a high degree of scientific uncertainty as to whether the proposal can meet our objective for Marine Fauna.”

Dr Vogel said it was important to note that the EPA was tasked to assess the environmental impacts of the proposal, not the efficacy of the policy in regards to public safety.

“Many of the public submissions raised issues in relation to the effectiveness of the proposal from a public safety perspective,” he said.

“The EPA can only make a judgment on the impact on the environment. The Minister, in making his final decision, may take other matters into consideration,” he said.

Dr Vogel said the EPA supported the continuation and further research into shark behavior and investigation and implementation of non-lethal alternatives.

The EPA’s report to the Minister for Environment is now open for a two-week public appeal period. Appeals close September 25, 2014 and can be made at www.appealsconvenor.wa.gov.au

Appeals are administered independently of the EPA by the Appeals Convenor and determined by the Minister for Environment. This proposal is also being assessed under a bilateral agreement with the Commonwealth. This means both State and Federal Ministers for the Environment will make a decision under their respective legislations. Both Ministers will need to give approval for the proposal to proceed.

EPA Report 1527, the Peer Reviewer’s reports and the proponent’s response to submissions are available at www.epa.wa.gov.au

Media Contact: Nadia Miraudo 0400 866 450

Status: Final
Appeals close