The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has determined that the SMART drumline trial was unlikely to have significant environmental impact and did not warrant formal assessment because:
- It is a localised trial of limited duration; and
- The protocols for capturing and tagging sharks are designed to be non-lethal, closely monitored and frequently reviewed.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) proposal aims to catch, tag, relocate and release white sharks as part of a 15 month trial offshore from Gracetown, in the Ngari Capes Marine Park.
EPA Chair Tom Hatton said the short duration of the trial and the restricted geographic footprint limited the potential extent of environmental impact on marine animal populations and habitat.
“The low likelihood of impact on the population of white sharks and other non-target marine species because of the non-lethal measures to be implemented is a key aspect of the trial,” Mr Hatton said.
“Information made available from the New South Wales SMART drumline program about shark survival rates and experience gained from shark handling procedures from DPIRD provided further reassurance of minimal environmental impact.
“The EPA also supports the ongoing commitment to review and consult with the Ministerial Reference Group and the Chief Scientist of WA, and recommends that the findings of the regular progress reports are made publicly available as soon as possible.”
The proposed trial will involve 10 SMART drumlines be set and retrieved daily about 500 metres offshore along an 11.5km stretch of coast off Gracetown.
The proposal was referred to the EPA from DPIRD on December 21, 2018, under section 38 of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (EP Act).
The EPA received 99 public comments during the seven-day public comment period earlier this month and the matters raised were considered as part of the EPA’s determination.
The determination and full public advice can be found at http://www.epa.wa.gov.au/proposals/non-lethal-trial-smart-drumlines.
The EPA’s determination is now open for a two-week public appeal period, closing Thursday 31 January 2019. Appeals can be made at www.appealsconvenor.wa.gov.au.
EPA Media Contact: Jayne Rickard on 0400 866 450