Expert calls for extension
Shark campaigner Keith Halnan is pushing for the State Government’s smart drum line trial to take in Ellensbrook and Umbies surf breaks.
There are also growing whispers that surfers in the Yallingup/Dunsborough area want in on the trial, which was flagged last month.
Meanwhile, Capes surfers have questioned the timing of Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly’s aboutface on smart drum lines as State Government agencies explore options for relocating the Margaret River Pro to Kalbarri.
Mr Halnan told the Times the recent announcement was “certainly a coincidence and very interesting timing”.
He noted the recent drum line trial news was an about-face by Mr Kelly, who robustly dodged previous calls amid a stoush with the NSW Government about access to their smart drum line program data.
“Why hasn’t our peak fisheries body (Department of Primary Industries, and Regional Development) got that sort of data?” Mr Halnan asked.
Mr Kelly told the Times more details about the 12-month trial would come next month, while surfers believed it would start in January.
“The decision to trial non-lethal smart drum lines in the State’s South West was made after information provided by the NSW Government on their trial was insufficient to determine the effectiveness of smart drum lines and guide a long-term financial investment for WA’s coastline,” Mr Kelly said. “The Government will continue to speak with key stakeholders and the community prior to the commencement of the trial.
“Chief scientist Peter Klinken will conduct an independent assessment . . . (and) will look at whether these drum lines are effective in reducing attacks.”
He directed questions about the Pro to Tourism Minister Paul Papalia.
Surfing WA events manager Justin Majeks dismissed the “coincidence” talk from online surf forums. “We do not believe the announcement of the smart drum line trial has anything to do with the retention of the Pro at Margaret River,” he said.
“Any measures that can increase the safety of our members and other ocean users should be fully supported.”
The debate follows calls by National Surfing Reserves chairman Brad Farmer for tourism authorities, including Tourism WA, to support retention of the Margaret River Pro and abandon unpopular talks with Kalbarri boardriders about relocating the event.
South West Safe Shark Group convenor Keith Halnan wants the smart drum line trial extended to more surf breaks.