Shark warning for holidaymakers heading to the coast

Salmon form large schools along surf beaches and inshore reef systems, making them ideal targets for holidaying families hoping to land a great catch over Easter.
Salmon form large schools along surf beaches and inshore reef systems, making them ideal targets for holidaying families hoping to land a great catch over Easter.

Holidaymakers heading to the south and west coasts for the Easter weekend are being reminded to take precautions in the water, with the annual WA salmon run coinciding with the holiday period.

Fisheries Minister Don Punch urged those planning to spend time at the beach and in the ocean to be aware of the risks involved.

"Western Australia is home to a pristine coastline, and I am sure many families will be counting down the days until they can head out fishing over the Easter break," Mr Punch said.

"I urge everyone planning to fish during the annual salmon run, head out spearfishing or make a splash at the beach over Easter to switch on their Sea Sense and download the free SharkSmart WA app before heading out into the ocean.

"It is important that all Western Australians check for shark activity before heading into the water and follow common sense shark safety tips to reduce the risk of a shark encounter."

During their westward migration along the west coast, thousands of adult WA salmon aggregate to spawn during the autumn months before the Leeuwin Current then disperse their eggs and larvae to protected coastal nurseries.

Salmon form large schools along surf beaches and inshore reef systems, making them ideal targets for holidaying families who want to wet a line and catch one of these prized sports fish.

Although large schools of salmon are great for fishers, the salmon run attracts sharks close to shore.

Swimmers, divers and other ocean users are advised to stay away from large salmon schools and other fish, seals or other wildlife acting erratically; and to fish, swim, dive or surf with a friend if possible.

Common sense tips to reduce the risk of a shark encounter include:

  • checking the SharkSmart WA app or website for reported sightings and tagged shark detections before heading into the water;
  • remaining alert to any Surf Life Saving WA helicopters and leaving the water immediately if a siren is sounded;
  • swimming between the flags or close to shore at unpatrolled beaches;
  • following any beach closure instructions and taking note of any warning signs or Beach Emergency Number (BEN) signage in place;
  • reporting any shark sightings to the Water Police on 9442 8600 as quickly as possible.

Surfers or divers can also protect themselves with a personal shark deterrent (State Government rebates are available).

Salmon fishers are encouraged to fish from one of the many pristine beaches along the State's southern and south-western coastline to avoid the dangers of rock fishing.

Recreational fishers should also 'bleed' their catch away from the water's edge and dispose of all fish waste responsibly, to help keep beach areas clean and avoid attracting larger marine predators.

If spearfishing, remove all speared fish from the water quickly and do not carry dead or bleeding fish attached to you.

For further information on how to stay safe in the water, visit www.sharksmart.com.au

This story Shark warning for holidaymakers heading to the coast first appeared on Augusta-Margaret River Mail.