Great White caught first time in more than 25 years

A GREAT White shark was caught in local waters for the first time in more than 25 years last week.

Local fisherman Robbie Giles hauled in the unusual catch about 15 miles off Robe’s coastline.

The 14-foot female was inadvertently caught in the fishing nets of Mr Giles’s gillnet boat The Challenger.

Mr Giles said he believed the shark would have been feeding on the fish in his nets and got tangled.

Robe Fishermen’s Association president Paul Regnier said the last time a Great White was seen in the local area was several years ago by fishermen near Cape Jaffa.

“It’s been a very long time since a Great White was spotted close to Robe,” Mr Regnier said.

“It’s very rare and quite unusual – I’ve never heard of a Great White being caught like the one last week.

“It’s a bit scary, you don’t expect to see them in that close, but you know they’re out there.”

Mr Regnier said the catch shouldn’t deter beach goers this summer.

Robe mayor Peter Riseley is no stranger to shark fishing, having been a shark fisherman for 34 years and catching a big Great White of his own in the same year the last local one was caught.

“They’re always out there,” he said.

However, he said local residents and visitors shouldn’t worry – the Great White is predominantly an ocean-going animal and rarely travels close to the coastline.

“The last time a Great White was caught in this area was in 1987,” he said.

“The conditions at the time and the food activity was right and there were more shark boats in those days.

“There was a lot more shark activity that year.”

Mr Riseley also said that there had never been an attack on the local coastline and this shark being caught wouldn’t stop him – and shouldn’t deter others – from enjoying the local beaches.

In 1987 Mr Riseley caught what has been said to be the largest Great White – about 7m long and weighing somewhere between 3500 and 4000 pounds.

The jaws of this shark are currently on show at the Sydney Aquarium and measure three feet wide.

An Australian Fisheries Management Authority observer was on Mr Giles’s boat last week when the unusual catch was reeled in.

AFMA is responsible for management and sustainable use of commonwealth fish resources on behalf of the Australian community.

Gillnet boats fish for Gummy Sharks, also known as “flake”, for which stocks are healthy and assessed as not overfished.

Great White Sharks are a protected species under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

All interactions with a threatened, endangered and protected species are to be reported. Last week’s interaction was reported.

AFMA spokesperson Rebecca Atkins said: “Although fishers are targeting small Gummy Sharks, larger sharks occasionally get accidentally tangled in the nets.”

“As white shark interactions are rare for the fishery, it is uncertain whether interactions are more common in nearshore or offshore waters.”

Pics of shark located at web site:

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