Alert on shark safety

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Front Page - War­ren Hately

Vasse MLA Libby Met­tam says the WA Govern­ment has aban­doned the State’s shark mit­i­ga­tion pol­icy, redi­rect­ing fund­ing to sub­si­dies for per­sonal shark de­vices in­stead of drum lines.

La­bor Fish­eries Min­is­ter Dave Kelly re­jected the claim, say­ing $250,000 in fund­ing had been “repri­ori­tised” and not pulled from the shark re­sponse pol­icy.

Mr Kelly said fund­ing had dou- bled for shark mit­i­ga­tion across the for­ward es­ti­mates com­pared with the pre­vi­ous govern­ment, though the Times un­der­stands drum lines would be a last re­sort based on as­sess­ment by De­part­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment per­son­nel even in the case of a shark at­tack.

Mrs Met­tam said the Bud­get news meant the Govern­ment was “walk­ing away from the pub­lic safety con­cerns sur­round­ing this is­sue”. “We have now also seen the re­moval of funds which were ded­i­cated to re­mov­ing sharks that were an im­mi­nent threat, which on the ground will see a re­duc­tion of $250,000 per year, which sees the ef­fec­tive can­cel­la­tion of shark haz­ard mit­i­ga­tion,” she told the Times.

The fund­ing move re­placed the pol­icy “with a re­bate scheme for a per­sonal de­vice for those who can ei­ther af­ford or have faith in a com­mer­cial prod­uct”, she said.

Mrs Met­tam said she knew few surfers in the Capes re­gion with such de­vices, which were yet to be proven.

A DPIRD spokes­woman said the se­ri­ous threat pol­icy re­mained, but would be sub­ject to as­sess­ment by of­fi­cers rather than trig­ger­ing de­ploy­ment of baited lines af­ter a shark at­tack. The sep­a­rate im­mi­nent threat pol­icy of an­nual drum lines was dis­con­tin­ued in 2014.

Mr Kelly said pre­vi­ous fund­ing of $5.3 mil­lion across four years

had in­creased un­der La­bor to $10.8 mil­lion.

“The $250,000 . . . has not been re­moved, but in­stead repri­ori­tised, as it was bud­geted for by the pre­vi­ous Lib­eral-Na­tional govern­ment for their se­ri­ous threat guide­lines,” he said.

“The McGowan Govern­ment has amended the se­ri­ous threat guide­lines so that drum lines are not au­to­mat­i­cally de­ployed.

“This de­ci­sion was made to fo­cus on more ef­fec­tive mea­sures that are proven to re­duce the like­li­hood of a shark at­tack oc­cur­ring in the first place.

“The costs as­so­ci­ated with the de­ploy­ment of drum lines have now been re­al­lo­cated to other shark haz­ard mit­i­ga­tion strate­gies, in­clud­ing funds for a new beach en­clo­sure at Fal­con Beach and the trial shark de­ter­rent sub­sidy,” Mr Kelly said.

He said the Govern­ment was fo­cused on sci­ence-based ap­proaches, con­tin­u­ing fund­ing for Surf Life Sav­ing aerial and beach pa­trols “af­ter the for­mer Lib­er­alNa­tional govern­ment failed to al­lo­cate ap­pro­pri­ate fund­ing be­yond June 30 this year” and ex­tended WA’s shark mon­i­tor­ing net­work to Esperance.

Mr Kelly said trial anti-shark de­vices gave “gen­uine pro­tec­tion to the peo­ple who are most at risk”.

Surf Life Sav­ing WA spokesman Chris Peck said the or­gan­i­sa­tion wel­comed a fur­ther two years fund­ing, pro­vid­ing aerial pa­trols as well as man­ag­ing res­cue op­er­a­tions for Yallingup, Meelup, Bunker Bay and Smiths Beach.

City of Bus­sel­ton Mayor Grant Hen­ley said the two en­clo­sures de­liv­ered by the pre­vi­ous govern­ment meant the change in pri­or­i­ties would have lit­tle ef­fect.

The Shire of Au­gusta-Mar­garet River did not re­spond to in­quiries.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.