Shark risk for salmon season

Zach RelphSouth Western Times
Big salmon schools are gathering in the South West.
Camera IconBig salmon schools are gathering in the South West. Credit: Picture: SLSWA

A bumper salmon season has attracted increased numbers of sharks closer to the South West coast, according to authorities who are warning water-users to remain cautious of the predators.

The Surf Life Saving WA helicopter has spotted 30 sharks off the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Cape last month as mature and juvenile salmon are starting to form big schools along the region’s coast.

Department of Fisheries shark response unit manager Lisa Clack said the big Australian salmon schools were “likely to attract a range of sharks species” closer to shore.

“We urge waters users to consider their personal safety during the salmon season, because the presence of large schools of Australian salmon is likely to attract a range of sharks species,” Ms Clack said.

“Reported shark sightings around the Capes area are already on the rise this year around schooling fish.

“Already in 2017 – we’ve had 30 shark sightings reported along the Capes by the helicopter just in March.

“If you are swimming or surfing – stay aware of your surroundings. Keep away from large schools of fish, as these schools may attract sharks close to shore.”

The SLSWA helicopter spotted 179 sharks during a six-week period last season.

Department senior finfish researcher Kim Smith said 2016 was “one of the best salmon seasons on record” and he expected the upcoming season to again boast impressive stocks across WA.

“Last year the salmon run up the West Coast extended as far as Exmouth, which is further north than ever previously reported,” Dr Smith said.

“If the cool water from coastal currents remains along the west coast, we could have another bumper salmon season with plenty of fish reaching Perth and further northwards.”

Whitey’s Tackle owner Ben White said many anglers had purchased lures from his Australind store in anticipation for the upcoming salmon run.

Mr White said many shore-based fishers would target salmon in the coming weeks.

“I think it’s going to be as good as last year. Everything is indicating it will be,” Mr White said.

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