Shark drumlines to appear in Australian waters

The drumlines designed to catch and kill large sharks off the West Australian coastline - which have caused much anger among anti-culling activists - are set to appear in the water this weekend.

The private contractor charged with laying and monitoring the drumlines in the south-west of the state is believed to have been told to get started in time for the Australia Day long weekend.

The Fremantle-based fisherman, who has appeared in the media but has not been identified, will lay the lines at beaches at Old Dunsborough, Meelup and Castle Rock, before moving on to Gracetown - the site of the fatal attack late last year that prompted the WA government's controversial policy.

Old Dunsborough beach is where a 300m-long shark barrier is being trialled, 100m from the shore, just in time for the public holiday.

The drumlines will appear off the south-west first, after federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt granted WA an exemption under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, allowing the protected great white shark to be killed.

But plans to set drumlines off Perth beaches have been delayed, after potential professional contractors pulled out because of alleged threats from environmental activists.

Government fisheries officers will now be ordered to perform that duty, beginning within weeks, according to the state government.

Protesters, however, are determined to disrupt those efforts, with a national rally planned for February 1.

Even Hollywood star Ricky Gervais, the creator of the smash-hit comedy The Office, has appeared on social media holding up a sign decrying the WA government.

Gervais later said on Twitter: "Animals don't have a voice. But I do. A loud one. I'm a f****** big mouth. My voice is for them. And I'll never shut up while they suffer."

The death of Chris Boyd at Gracetown was the seventh in WA waters since August 2010 and came only a month after abalone diver Greg Pickering was mauled.

In seeking the exemption, the state government said the spike in attacks had dented tourism and leisure-based businesses, with recreational diving operators reporting a greater than 90 per cent plunge in people learning to dive.

But the plan has incensed conservationists, with the Humane Society labelling it "a complete disgrace", while thousands of protesters recently rallied against it on a Cottesloe beach frequented by the state's Liberal premier.

Mr Hunt confirmed that after this summer trial, which ends on April 30, there would have to be a full federal environment act assessment if the policy was to continue.

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