THE Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has refused to green light the WA state government’s plan to continue its controversial Shark Hazard Mitigation Drum Line Program.
Following rigorous examination of the proposal, EPA Chairman Dr Paul Vogel said on Thursday there remained a high degree of scientific uncertainty about impacts on the viability of the South West white shark population
"The South West is not as safe as Perth beaches and I cannot walk away from that responsibility,"WA Premier Colin Barnett.
“At this stage, the available information and evidence does not provide the EPA with a high level of confidence,” he said.
The proposal attracted more than 6,000 public submissions as well as two petitions with a total of 25,000 signatures.
The state government implemented the Shark Hazard Mitigation Drum Line Program in 2013 and was seeking approval for another three years.
The program involved baited drum lines off the Perth and South West coast.
In the South West, 61 sharks were caught on the drum lines with 26 Tiger sharks being destroyed.
The program was met with high criticism, resulting in rallies held across the state in protest.
Dr Vogel said it was important to note that the EPA was tasked to assess the environmental impacts of the proposal, not the efficacy of the policy in regards to public safety.
“Many of the public submissions raised issues in relation to the effectiveness of the proposal from a public safety perspective,” he said.
WA Premier Colin Barnett said the government would not appeal the EPA's decision but find another way to protect the public.
He said the South West beaches were his biggest concern going into summer.
"The South West is not as safe as Perth beaches and I cannot walk away from that responsibility," Premier Barnett said.
While the Premier accepted the EPA's decision Mr Barnett said it was a great contradiction that Great White sharks were allowed to be killed in Queensland and New South Wales but not Western Australia.
Mr Barnett said there was still a chance federal environment minister Greg Hunt would approve the policy but he had been in discusssion with him about the issue.
The Australian Greens have called on Mr Hunt to support the EPA's decision and not approve the policy.
“Minister Hunt gave last summer’s cull the green light, he cannot make the same mistake again," Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said.