Minister says no to extending Smart drum line trial

Department of Primary Industries with a baited shark caught in NSW Smart drum line trial. Image supplied
Department of Primary Industries with a baited shark caught in NSW Smart drum line trial. Image supplied

Fisheries minister Dave Kelly has refused to extend a Smart drum line trial in two more locations off WA’s coastline despite a request from state opposition members.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam and Dawesville MLA Zak Kirkup wrote to the minister requesting that Yallingup and Falcon also be included in the trial.

In August, Mr Kelly agreed to a 12-month trial of Smart drum lines, which have been used on the East Coast, would take place in Gracetown.

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The opposition members stated that improving ocean safety for both swimmers, surfers and tourists was an important issue.

While both members appreciated the minister had listened to concerns raised by the surfing community and small business sector, more could be done which would add value to the trial.

“From a scientific perspective there is value in trialling it in different locations given the variations in temperature, conditions, whale migration and marine habitats along our vast coastline.”

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Mr Kelly said the state government had committed to a trial at Gracetown for a period of at least 12 months and that is what they would deliver.

“Gracetown has been chosen as the preferred location because since 2004 there have been three fatalities in Gracetown – more than any other location in the state - as a result of a shark attack involving a great white shark,” he said.

“We want to have the non-lethal Smart drum lines in the water as soon as possible, however we won’t be repeating the mistakes of the previous government and cutting corners as they did in 2014 with their failed shark cull.

“There are a number of steps to go through before the trial can commence, such as community consultation, environmental approvals and tender processes.

“If the Liberals are really concerned about saving lives they should stop discouraging surfers purchasing a proven personal shark deterrent. They should support our personal shark deterrent subsidy.”

Mr Kirkup said the WA Government needed to do more to protect beach-goers.

Yallingup surfer Garth Mullumby said with more whale carcasses in the area, the more shark threats there were.

Mr Mullumby said smart drum lines were good because sharks were tagged, released and created invaluable tracking data.

"I am stoked smart drum lines will be used at Gracetown but it would be better if they were also used further north as well."

City of Busselton mayor Grant Henley said as a general principle, the city supported any non-lethal measures that may help make the ocean experience safer for the community.

Have your say: Would you like to see Yallingup included in the WA Smart drum line trial? E-mail editorial.bdmail@fairfaxmedia.com.au.