Shark Tourism to be outlawed in Western Australia

Ministerial Media Statement

Norman Moore
Minister for Mines and Petroleum; Fisheries; Electoral Affairs

Sun 08 July, 2012

WA says no to shark cage tourism

Portfolio: Fisheries

  • Regulations to rule out tourism ventures based on attracting sharks
  • Research shows potential for these operations to change shark behaviour
  • State policy set for potential operators

Fisheries Minister Norman Moore today announced that regulations were being drafted for a State ban on targeted or dedicated shark tourism ventures, including cage diving operations, based on the attraction of sharks.

“I have decided that Western Australia will not be the place for shark cage tourism, like those currently operating in South Australia and South Africa,” Mr Moore said.

“There have been no formal applications for such ventures in WA as yet, but I have acted to let any potential operators know this State’s policy.

“While such ventures may generate direct or indirect economic benefits, there are also concerns that sustained activities to attract sharks to feeding opportunities have the potential to change the behaviour patterns of those sharks.”

The Minister said South Australia and South Africa had cage diving operations at specific sites where white sharks were known to form significant aggregations, but WA did not have any known areas where sharks congregated.

“Lack of such sites in WA may result in operators wanting to maximise berleying and baiting to attract sharks to meet tourist expectations, which may have unwanted consequences,” he said.

“CSIRO research at shark cage diving sites in South Australia found that white sharks in the study area changed their distribution to align with areas of active berleying and, while there was no determination from the study about the longer term effects on shark behaviour or outside the study area, I would prefer to take no risks until more is known.

“With four fatalities in WA from shark interactions, since last September, the Government is not willing to allow any ventures that may raise even greater public fears than already exist.”

Mr Moore said the State Government had responded to community concerns by providing $13.65million across four years to reduce the risk of shark attacks by delivering comprehensive action to mitigate the hazards through increased awareness and extended research.

“A Shark Response Unit has been set up by the Department of Fisheries to co-ordinate shark mitigation operations and research and a community engagement strategy is also being developed to increase general knowledge about shark safety and to work with public agencies and stakeholders to enhance preparedness and responses to shark hazards,” Mr Moore said.

Source: Government of Western Australia



  1. Angel

    Four fatal attacks without cage diving in 9 months. I think you have more important issues than cage diving. I can agree that it may change animal behaviour. There is no scientific evidence that proves it to be true in a sense. There are just some observational comments on it. It may be true. They should be left alone in natural habitat of theirs. But it just does not yet solve the problem in the region. You need to offer solutions to the fact that while you are protecting an animal, you should peotect the human life as well. I doubt cage diving is a part of the problem or solution these days.
    I like it when politicians do that. “See I protect people” by doing nothing but talking…
    We all know that cage diving does not exsist there and actually don’t care if it exsists or not.
    Please offer real solutions that actually may prevent more human sacrifises. You can not save everyone but you can decrease the numbers..

  2. Unlike the recent S. Africa attack where tons of chum was used (unintential) to attract sharks inwards toward the shore line. Shark cages with consistency can keep the species away from the shoreline if done in a strategic location where they already congregate. Example Hawaii cages are 3 miles out where the crab traps have been located for quite some time resulting in a popular shark community.

  3. Angel

    You have a valid point. It may help them to keep the sharks away.

    The conditions in Hawaii and Australia may be different. The number of remote surfs are much higher and the population of GWS are higher as well. The problem they have is almost all related to GWS. Which is not your case. You try to avoid Tigers mostly which are not oceanic sharks like GWS. As you know from earlier research while you receive seasonal migration of GWS from West American coast to Hawaii for a limited period of time, they receive migration from South Africa and from other parts of Australia itself. The number of GWS are a lot higher then Hawaii in their case. They do not have a local central feeding ground where they have mainly seals like South Africa, where you can practice cage diving easily. So they are afraid to attrack even more sharks than they have today as numbers because of feeding operations.

  4. Angel

    Feeding 3 miles of shore is not a great distance for a GWS which travels several times of that distance daily. Also the geographical built up of the surf and reefs are totally different. Comparing to Hawaii they have a larger surf zone and really shallow waters for miles from the land where you have steep deeper waters in a few hundred meters off shore.

    So in general your idea may work. It needs to be studied from a different angle of view.

    I do not have the information where they lay their spiny lobster traps, trying to compare it to your crab traps. But as far as I know shell fish traps does not always and necessarily attract sharks (Like eastern US where they harvest cabs and Lobsters in large numbers, DE, MD, MA, ME may be examples.).

    In general they have more difficulties to face to avoid attacks.

    They just had another fatal attack 2 days ago, the number in 9 months are 5 fatal attacks now. That is by far the deadliest place in recent years. If you compare the number of people surfing and swimming to particular places they use, it is the deadliest place on earth for animal deadly interactions for people.

  5. In spite of its infamously glorified reputation, the Great White Shark is not an indiscriminate, merciless murderer. With that being said, it is also arguably the ocean’s most feared predator and one of nature’s most proficient and skilled killers. With an arsenal of evolutionary attributes at its disposal, this predatory beast wields unbelievable abilities that should commend more awe and respect than fear 

  6. Angel

    In fact we know almost nothing about these animals. We think we know a lot. Everything is about what we think.

    We think they mistake surfers with seals. Is that a fact? We have no idea. An animal with all these hunting skills can make such devastating mistakes ?

    We think they do not like cold or hot waters. Do they not like or is it only where we can observe them ? Some of the attacks took place at the temperatures we thought these animals should not exist.

    We think they do not like human flesh. Or do they actually care ? It is their natural hunting system to attack and step back until the victim bleeds out. Then they come back to consume. Most of the cases in the human attacks are actually similar. The only difference is that there are other people around in most cases to take the injured victim out of water. This may well prevent them from having the rest of the digestive ceremony.

    We know that they even attack boats, I mean big boats even outboard engines. That is the only shark that does that.

    We think it is curious and that is why they do it. Again that is only what we think.

    We want to perceive things as we want to. If we were seals in Farallon Islands or in South Africa, we should think different. Perceive totally different.

    The fact is, this is the most dangerous animal for humans in oceans. Comparing to their numbers to other dangerous sharks to humans, by far these are real human killers.

    And we respect them even if we have this information. We know that they may kill us but still it is the first shark species that is protected globally.

    I think we show them enough respect. Not only because they are perfect killing machines. Mainly because they are low on numbers.

    Please keep in mind that if the GWS population around the globe was more than tens of thousands we needed to take different measures to keep people safe. This might at some point include killing some of them.

    But that is not the case. So we should not worry about it. What we should worry is how to prevent more human victims without killing the GWS.

    That is our main concern.

    Do we respect them, yes we do… We fully respect them for what they are and what they represent…

  7. Jack Trevally

    Cage diving is not the problem here. Cage diving or any kind of shark diving does not lead to shark attacks. Banning shark dives will not prevent shark attacks. This “solution” is arrogant and closed minded. Let divers dive with sharks and those who don’t want the risk can stay out of the water. Remaining on land is the only sure fire way to prevent being bitten.

    Most of all a cull of GWS would be a tragedy and a terrible idea. It won’t help either.

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