Sharks mutilated

FISHERIES are investigating the illegal catching and mutilation of three large tiger sharks which washed up on Sandtrax and Port beaches on Wednesday morning.

Swimmers spotted pieces of the dismembered sharks floating off the southern end of Sandtrax early in the morning and called Freo council safety officers.

One of the officers told the Herald she helped pull ashore one chunk which had washed up on a groyne, but wasn’t too keen about venturing into deeper water to haul in another large piece because of fears it might attract more lively sharks.

• Fisheries and council officers inspect the grisly remains of the mutilated sharks. Photos by Steve Grant

Fisheries were called and after a chopper pilot spotted several other large pieces of the bodies floating offshore, a boat was sent to tow them into shore.

Officers inspected the carcasses and determined they were above the maximum size limit fishers are allowed to keep. Unlike smaller fish which have a minimum size, some shark species have maximum sizes to protect breeding females and because they are likely to have a big build-up of heavy metals.

The jaws had been removed from the sharks.

• Officers pull one of the mutilated sharks out of the water at Port Beach. It didn’t deter an intrepid swimmer in the background.

Port Beach was busy on Wednesday morning with plenty of swimmers, prompting fisheries minister Dave Kelly to give the culprits a ticking off.

“I’m concerned that fishing for large sharks on popular beaches could be attracting sharks closer to swimming areas,” Mr Kelly said. “This illegal fishing activity is very concerning.

“The fishing activity appears to have been targeted to attract large sharks and therefore fishers should be mindful of the concerns and safety of other water users. I’ve asked fisheries officers to fully investigate this matter.”

As the Chook left the scene, council depot workers were pondering the logistics of getting a bobcat onto the beach to scoop up the remains for disposal.

by STEVE GRANT

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