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Helping solve the ongoing WA shark problem

Helping solve the ongoing WA shark problem

A fascinating new product is aimed at helping solve the ongoing shark problem WA anglers face.

Anyone who has seriously fished offshore north of Perth in recent years would be aware of the whaler plague that has descended on so many popular fishing locations.

There are spots where anglers can’t get a fish past the hungry packs of taxmen and the issue of shark depredation has been one our fisheries managers have been wrestling with for a few years now.

Finding a solution has been problematic, although there are moves to allow more commercial fishing for sharks on the west coast.

However, an innovative new product from the United States could play an important role in helping local anglers keep sharks at bay to land far more of the fish they hook.

Now available in WA, the Sharkbanz Zeppelin is attached to your fishing line like a sinker, making it ideal for demersal fishing, and is the result of over a decade's worth of peer-reviewed scientific research on the use of magnetic technology as an active and effective shark deterrent.

It weighs 185 grams, around six and a half ounces, and is shaped like a bullet.

It uses magnetic technology to overwhelm the electroreception of sharks, creating a highly unpleasant sensation that hopefully stops them in their tracks but doesn’t harm them.

The Zeppelin doesn’t require charging and is effective at any depth, but has a limited range so it needs to be attached to your rig close to the hooks.

The makers recommend attaching it so it sits around 45-60cm from the tail of the target species when hooked.

Steve Riley at Exmouth Tackle and Camping was involved in teaming up with Recfishwest to trial the Zeppelin and has been impressed with the results, although he stressed that correctly setting up the rig was vital.

“When we first started using the Zeppelin we went from a 10 per cent catch rate to 80 per cent,” he said.

Steve said the Zeppelin had proven most effective in depths of under 120m, as it buys anglers time to land the fish rather than totally scaring the sharks off.

“It doesn’t stop the shark from eating the fish, but it makes them more cautious and gives you more time to get the fish up,” he said.

The Sharkbanz website, www.sharkbanz.com.au, has some great informative content on the Zeppelin, including rigging diagrams and regularly updated video content which shows how the units work.

The Zeppelin is the result of trialling a number of different prototypes and finding which suited fishing applications best.

The development by Sharkbanz continues and is using data gathered on a visit to Exmouth, which the company identified as a hot spot for shark depredation in recreational fishing.

Sharkbanz is working on designs for shore and spearfishing, with co-founder Nathan Garrison saying the technology had the potential to make a big difference to our fisheries through reducing shark interactions.

“We are aiming to restore the joy of fishing and at the same time help maintain abundant fisheries,” he said.

“That means more money in people’s pockets, more fish in the boat and a healthy fishery, and it is better for future generations.”

I haven’t tried the Zeppelin yet, but with some upcoming trips to the North-West I look forward to seeing how it performs in the field and it will also be fascinating to hear reports from others on its effectiveness as it could be a potential game-changer for offshore fishers in WA who are tired of battling sharks. They should be available in stores and online from mid-June.

Image caption: The Sharkbanz Zeppelin can easily be rigged for bottom fishing and the maker claims it reduces shark depredation by up to 85 per cent.

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