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Major changes unveiled after teenager dies in Perth shark attack


Perth’s Swan River could soon be home to multiple shark barriers after a teenager was killed in the river’s first fatal attack in 100 years.

Stella Berry was swimming near the Fremantle traffic bridge when she was attacked on February 4.

Police, paramedics and friends tried to revive the 16-year-old but her injuries were too severe and she died at the scene.

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Officials believe a bull shark is likely to be responsible given they populate the river.

Just days later authorities closed several river swimming spots after a 2.5m bull shark was reeled in in East Fremantle on Wednesday night.

Stella Berry, 16, was swimming near the Fremantle traffic bridge on February 4 when she was mauled. Credit: 7NEWS

Western Australia has a tagging program for white sharks in the ocean but not bull sharks which are known to enter the river to give birth.

Fisheries Minister Don Punch confirmed the Bicton Baths in Melville, about 4km away from where Ms Berry was attacked, would become home to Perth’s first river-based barrier in almost half a century.

The state government will pay the cost of installing the barrier, which is designed to only block larger animals such as sharks, and the local council will fund its maintenance.

It’s hoped the barrier will be in place by next summer.

The government has written to six other riverside councils, including the City of Fremantle, seeking their interest in the barriers.

Kai Boyle caught this shark in the Swan River just days after Stella Berry was fatally attacked. Credit: Facebook/Kai Boyle

“It’s been a shock to the whole community what has happened,” Punch told reporters.

“We’re all still grieving about what has happened … we want to see how we can improve confidence that the river is a great place to enjoy.”

Perth man Cameron Wrathall was seriously injured after being bitten on the leg by a bull shark in 2021 while swimming in the river at Blackwall Reach, near the Bicton Baths.

He revealed recently he had been in talks with the City of Melville about some sort of swimmer protection in the river, with the council identifying Bicton Baths jetty as the most likely location.

Cameron Wrathall has been an advocate for some sort of protective barrier for swimmers. Credit: 7NEWS

Berry has been remembered by her parents Matt and Sophie as a vibrant and happy girl who loved making art and planning to live in Europe after school.

“She was a caring person and was a dear friend to many, across a variety of schools in the area,” they said.

“She was a beautiful and loving big sister and the best daughter we could have hoped for.”

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Source: 7News