Shark alert to trigger shutdown

John DobsonAlbany Advertiser

The Ellen Cove shark barrier will be closed to swimmers if there is a shark attack or confirmed sighting under a new City of Albany beach closure policy.

The City is set to adopt the policy, which guides when and how beaches will be closed if a shark is sighted or an attack occurs, at its Tuesday, October 31, council meeting.

Middleton Beach, including the Ellen Cove shark barrier, was closed on at least two occasions last summer because of the repeated detection of a tagged tiger shark in King George Sound.

Under the proposed policy, the beach inside the shark barrier would also be closed in the same circumstances under the new guidelines.

It would close if a tagged shark was detected more than twice by a receiver within one hour. The Department of Fisheries no-tifies the City of a confirmed sighting of a sharkof 3m or more in length or a public sighting is made within 1km of shore at the beach.

City executive director of development services Paul Camins said the policy was guided by insurance advice.

“Based on advice from the City’s insurer, our current procedure has been to close the Ellen Cove swimming enclosure when there is a shark in the area that warrants closing the beach,” he said.

“The proposed Beach Closure Policy, which council will consider this month, seeks to clarify this procedure for the community.

“The swimming enclosure protects swimmers from the sharks we are not aware of.

“We have a duty of care to protect beach users by closing the full beach when we know there is a shark lurking close to shore.”

The last fatal shark attack victim in the City of Albany was 17-year-old Jay Muscat, who was killed by a white pointer at Cheyne Beach in December, 2014.

The proposed policy also outlines how the City would respond to shark attacks or sightings at isolated beaches along the coast, with each beach listed under one of three categories.

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