Put ‘hu­man life be­fore sharks’

The West Australian - - NEWS - Daniel Mercer

Fed­eral En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Josh Fry­den­berg has urged WA to take up NSW’s of­fer of cut­ting-edge drum lines to pro­tect against sharks, im­plor­ing the McGowan Gov­ern­ment to “put a pre­mium on hu­man life”.

Mr Fry­den­berg wel­comed NSW’s of­fer to pro­vide five smart drum lines free of charge and said there was “com­pelling ev­i­dence” the tech­nol­ogy could save lives.

He con­firmed he had writ­ten to WA Fish­eries Min­is­ter Dave Kelly invit­ing him to a meet­ing in Can­berra to “dis­cuss the is­sue of shark at­tacks” in WA and what could be done to pre­vent them.

Mr Kelly said he would write back seek­ing a suit­able date.

“The ev­i­dence is com­pelling that smart drum lines can save lives,” Mr Fry­den­berg said.

“For a few hun­dred thou­sand dol­lars, smart drum lines have been de­ployed along NSW beaches and caught more than 200 great white sharks in a 12-month pe­riod.

“Whether it’s Queens­land or NSW, these States are putting a pre­mium on hu­man life with their shark mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures and not putting their hand out to the Com­mon­wealth to fund pro­grams which are pri­mar­ily a State re­spon­si­bil­ity. Let’s hope the WA Gov­ern­ment can see sense on this is­sue and fol­low suit.”

But Premier Mark McGowan ridiculed the of­fer, say­ing it was “worse than pa­thetic” and the NSW Lib­eral Gov­ern­ment had not even con­tacted the State about the mat­ter.

Mr McGowan also took aim at NSW Pri­mary In­dus­tries Min­is­ter Niall Blair, de­scrib­ing his of­fer as “rude” and de­scrib­ing him as “ob­scure”.

“I sus­pect this ob­scure per­son from NSW whose name I can’t re­mem­ber has been put up to it by the supreme me­dia stunt­man Josh Fry­den­berg,” Mr McGowan told State Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day.

“As any­one who un­der­stands these things would un­der­stand the cost of the smart drum lines is all in the mon­i­tor­ing.

“We are await­ing the re­search out of NSW be­fore we make any de­ci­sion about smart drum lines but we also want to know whether the sharks that are tagged, what hap­pens to them after­wards.”

On Wed­nes­day, Mr Blair said smart drum lines had been ef­fec­tive in re­duc­ing shark at­tacks in NSW since be­ing used as part of a $16 mil­lion pack­age of mea­sures in re­sponse to in­ci­dents in 2016.

The tech­nol­ogy works by al­low­ing cap­tured sharks to be tagged and re­leased farther off­shore via a satel­lite-linked alert sys­tem.

Josh Fry­den­berg

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