Margaret River surfer calls for shark cull

A PROMINENT Margaret River surfer has stepped up and said all sharks three metres and larger should be culled to reduce the risk of fatal attacks, following the weekend's fatality in Gracetown.

Tom Innes of the Margaret River Boardriders Club believes most of the local surfing community, some divers, fishermen and surf life savers share his view.

“Up until now it could have been said that the attacks were freak accidents,” Innes said.

“Now it appears that it is a regular occurrence and the trend of fatal attacks is dramatically increasing.

“I don't want to see the local shark population wiped out, simply reduced to a number where they do not need to frequently feed on humans to survive.”

He said sharks of three metres begin to feed on mammals larger than the average fish and these should be more closely monitored to protect people in the South West.

“Sharks frequenting popular beaches should be reported for immediate catching and GPS tagging or killing," he said.

“Local teams of shark fishermen need to be employed in Margaret River and Yallingup to regulate the monitoring process.”

He listed popular beaches to include Gas Bay, Surfers Point, Ellensbrook, Lefthanders, Gracetown, Injidup, Smiths Beach, Yallingup and Bunker Bay.

Fisheries minister Troy Buswell told ABC radio on Monday that any options involving the state government culling sharks would have to be approved by the federal government as Great Whites were a protected species.

Mr Buswell said one of the things government would do is review the current imminent threat policy.

“As part of this review we will take on board views from groups like the Margaret River Boardriders and the wider community,” he said.

Mr Buswell offered his condolences to the family and friends of Mr Boyd and said he sympathised with those calling for a more proactive policy on shark management.

“When you lose a friend to a shark attack it’s a very logical response where all you want to happen is for that particular shark, which was responsible for taking your family member or friend, to be killed.

“I don’t blame people for having that thought at all.”

He said there were significant resources in trying to catch the shark responsible for the weekend’s attack with two boats and a helicopter looking for it.

Mr Innes paid tribute to his friend and fellow surfer Chris Boyd, who joined the Margaret River Boardriders Club early this year.

“I only knew him from social functions and from surfing with him several times,” Innes said.

“He was one of those people that you meet who makes a huge impression on you straight away, he was an absolute legend full of energy and buzz for life.

“He appeared to have a great relationship with his partner Krystle and together they held a strong presence wherever I saw them.

“It is a huge tragedy and loss.”

Friends of Mr Boyd will hold a memorial surf paddle on Thursday.

Shark protection to increase for events

Mr Buswell said protecting a range of people involved in upcoming beach-based activities in the region would be a priority.

This includes the Leavers beach day on Wednesday, the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Ironman and Ironwoman event on the weekend and the Ironman Western Australia Ironman events on December 8.

He said the WA Government has allocated more than $20million over four years for shark hazard mitigation strategies including the Surf Lifesaving WA’s helicopter and beach patrol programs and shark tagging and tracking.

No comment was given as to whether the South West patrols would be increased following the weekend tragedy, however this strategy would ensure there would be patrols over metropolitan beaches for 221 days of the year and daily flights over South West beaches from November to February.

A photo of Chris Boyd, in pink, with Tom Innes behind and some of the other Margaret River Boardriders crew at a Retro Expression Session held by the club. Pic: MRBC

A photo of Chris Boyd, in pink, with Tom Innes behind and some of the other Margaret River Boardriders crew at a Retro Expression Session held by the club. Pic: MRBC