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Western Australia Bans Shark Tourism After Four Fatal Attacks

Western Australia state said it would introduce rules to ban most shark tourism after four fatal attacks on bathers in the region over the past year.

The lack of traditional shark gathering sites off the state’s coast may encourage operators to feed the animals to attract them to cage dives, changing their behavior in a way that could pose risks to the public, Norman Moore, fisheries minister said in an e-mailed statement today. Such operations will be banned under rules now being drafted.

Western Australia had four fatal shark attacks in a six-month period from last September to last March, according to website sharkattackfile. The state is spending A$14 million ($14.3 million) over the next four years to reduce the risk of attacks, Moore said.

“I would prefer to take no risks,” he said in the statement. “The government is not willing to allow any ventures that may raise even greater public fears than already exist.”

While studies in South Australia state by Australia’s government scientific agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, weren’t clear about whether feeding great white sharks changed their behavior in the long term, that risk had to be set against economic benefits, he said.

No one had yet applied for a license to operate cage dives in Western Australia, Moore said.

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