WA's shark mitigation debate

Smart drumlines. Image supplied.

Smart drumlines. Image supplied.

Shadow Fisheries Minister Ian Blayney would like the state government to adopt more measures to prevent shark attacks in WA including the use of smart drum lines.

Shark Management Alert in Real Time drum lines, used in NSW, are not designed to kill sharks. Instead a baited hook is attached to a device with a hooked shark putting pressure on a line which triggers an alert.

“I get the feeling the WA government is not really interested,” Mr Blayney said.

At the moment, the state government subsidises shark deterrent technology called Shark Shield Freedom 7 offering a $200 rebate to purchasers of the device.

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly said shark mitigation was a serious issue that required policies that were driven by science and research.

“The Shark Shield Freedom7 can be used by both surfers and divers, and university research shows the device works nine out of 10 times against white sharks,” he said.

Mr Blayney agreed that no-one disputed the shark deterrent device was 90 per cent effective and doubted whether measures such as a shark cull would have broad community support.

”It is not a black and white issue, and there is no survey to say where people stand.”

Recent figures into shark numbers off the WA coast indicated that shark numbers were higher here compared to the East Coast, which Mr Blayney said was interesting.

“It was pretty certain the East Coast was richer [in nutrients] than the West Coast and it would be logical that there would be more sharks on the East Coast,” he said.

“Figures seem to indicate otherwise and it wasn't what anyone expected.”

Vasse MP Libby Mettam said it was not the role of government to support a subsidy for a commercial product which people would purchase anyway.

“I believe we need to look at the best science and technology, such as Smart drum lines, which have limited impact on the eco-system,” she said.

“I have never supported a shark cull, I only suggested a greater role for fisheries in managing public safety.”