Thursday, 12 July 2012 10:13 AM
The Western Australian government are moving to ban cage diving with sharks, amid fears that the practice may pose a threat to the public.
'Shark tourism' is popular in many countries that experience a local shark population. Cage diving with sharks often involves divers viewing the animals from a protective cage, but in some areas the sharks are attracted with food, as part of a practice known as 'baiting'.
Recent research by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has suggested that baiting may change shark behaviour. Unlike South Australia and South Africa, Western Australia relies on the practice of baiting, because it does not have any known areas where sharks congregate.
Since September, four people have been killed in shark attacks in the area. Most recently, an Irish expat was attacked while paddling in a "surf ski" kayak in Perth last month.
Norman Moore, the Fisheries Minister for Western Australia, commented: “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.
“I have decided that Western Australia will not be the place for shark cage tourism”.
The State Government had responded to community concerns by providing $13.65million across four years to reduce the risk of shark attacks.
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