A spate of shark fatalities has the Western Australian Government worried. It hardly helps that the state has become known as the world’s shark fatality capital. Summer is coming, along with the prospect of further tragedy, and when a surfer named Chris Boyd is killed in 2013, his death triggers a decisive shift in policy. Premier Colin Barnett and Fisheries Minister Troy Buswell announce a new strategy to combat the risk of shark attacks, which includes setting up baited drum lines to catch large sharks one kilometre from shore. Similar programs have been successful in Queensland and New South Wales. Some begin to wonder, however, whether the shark risk is really great enough to endanger protected species, animals which some say are the victims of Hollywood fear-mongering. Despite great controversy and vocal opposition, the government decides to deploy baited drum lines near popular beaches in an effort to reduce local shark numbers and protect the public. But will it work?
This two-part case can be used to discuss risk management in the wake of a high-profile public safety crisis. Part A describes the threat of shark incidences in Western Australia, and the initial proposals to manage the increased risk. Therein it explores policies and programs to reduce shark encounters used across Australia and the world.
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