WA shark kill policy won’t start this week

The West Australian government’s controversial shark kill policy will not begin this week as had been originally planned.

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In response to another fatal shark attack off WA waters late last year, Premier Colin Barnett instituted strict new guidelines, which included 1km kill zones off the WA coast, and baited drumlines intended to catch dangerous sharks.

Any shark longer than three metres caught on the 72 baited hooks will be humanely killed by commercial fishermen maintaining the baited hooks.

In the tender document sent out to prospective contractors, it had been planned that the first phase of the policy would begin on January 10.

But it has now emerged that the contracts will not be finalised until next week, although a spokeswoman for the premier said the start date had always been prone to shift.

“The time taken for the tenders’ panel to turn it around was of course dependent on the number of tenders received and whether they strictly comply with criteria,” the spokeswoman said.

“The end goal is to implement this policy as expeditiously as possible without jeopardising operator safety or skipping over necessary due diligence.”

Opposition fisheries spokesman Dave Kelly said it was a sign the policy was rushed.

“When this policy was announced prior to Christmas, the premier said this was a matter of public safety, a matter of almost life and death,” Mr Kelly said.

“Three days the government was alluding to children being taken from Scarborough beach, now … they are saying their own deadline won’t be met. The government has completely botched this.”

Environmental activists have threatened to disrupt the baited hooks, with some commercial fishermen concerned their operations and crew could be put at risk.

On Tuesday, a man believed to be angry about the policy vandalised Premier Barnett’s office, smashing windows with a hammer and daubing the word “Egomaniac” across the windows of the Cottesloe office.

Adrian Thomas, 29, will face charges of two counts of criminal damage in Perth Magistrates Court on January 21.

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