Tackling a very fishy issue

Happy snap: Experienced Warrnambool fisherman Peter Goode, pictured with some snapper he caught, says getting an enclosed harbour developed is a bigger concern than shark sightings.

Happy snap: Experienced Warrnambool fisherman Peter Goode, pictured with some snapper he caught, says getting an enclosed harbour developed is a bigger concern than shark sightings.

The sighting of a large shark near Warrnambool’s breakwater has sparked debate about nearby angling practices, but some people think there are bigger fish to fry.

Warrnambool resident and regular fisher Anne Vickery said she believed multiple shark sightings close to the boat ramp were caused by people disposing of fish remains straight into the water, resulting in a “berley trail”.

“It runs straight out to sea and that brings sharks in,” Ms Vickery said. “It’s a wonder they haven’t come in sooner.”

Ms Vickery said better facilities were needed for cleaning fish and getting rid of remains.

A Warrnambool City Council spokesman said it provided a 240-litre bin for fish remains near the boat ramp which was emptied three times every week and multiple cleaning tables. The spokesman said council workers visited the breakwater daily, and during peak times, such as fishing competitions, extra bins were provided.

Long-time Warrnambool angler Peter Goode, who regularly heads out from the boat ramp, said most people used the bins since they were introduced a couple of years ago

“In the past there (were) no facilities at all, so everything used to go into the water,” he said.

Mr Goode said he had seen sharks around frequently, particularly when he was fishing a few kilometres out to sea.

He said he thought people were overreacting to Monday’s sighting.

“Sharks sort of move through the area from time to time and as far as I know there hasn’t been anyone attacked by a shark in this area for a lot of years,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a huge risk to the public. Personally I think the state of the boat ramp is more of a danger to people than the shark is.”

Personally I think the state of the boat ramp is more of a danger to people than the shark is.

Peter Goode

Mr Goode said tidal surges compromised safety at the boat ramp, and an enclosed harbour was needed.

Newly-arrived Warrnambool resident Daniel Hainey, who saw the large shark on Monday, fishing at the breakwater for the first time, said he did not see anything unusual about the fish-cleaning and disposal methods. Mr Hainey, who moved from Cairns, said up north people were often banned from cleaning fish close to popular spots due to the risk of attracting crocodiles.