Al­bany MP Peter Watson says the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s plan for smart shark drum lines off Al­bany has no sci­en­tific ba­sis, while Lib­eral O’Con­nor MP Rick Wil­son has backed the idea.

Albany Extra - - Front Page - Shan­non Smith and Toby Hussey

O’Con­nor MP Rick Wil­son has backed Fed­eral En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Josh Fry­den­berg’s calls for WA to in­tro­duce SMART drum lines to negate sharks along its coast, in­clud­ing off Al­bany.

The elec­tric bar­rier of al­most 180 non-lethal drum lines along WA’s coast would be part of proac­tive mea­sures to pro­tect cit­i­zens against shark at­tacks, ac­cord­ing to Mr Fry­den­berg’s an­nounce­ment this week.

Mr Wil­son called on State Fish­eries Min­is­ter Dave Kelly to im­ple­ment a sys­tem to pro­tect all ocean users from shark at­tacks in WA.

“I have put the case to (Fish­eries) Min­is­ter (Dave) Kelly that O’Con­nor be in­cluded in th­ese mea­sures af­ter a spate of shark at­tacks and a tragic loss of life along the Great South­ern coast­line,” Mr Wil­son said.

“I have felt the frus­tra­tion of com­mu­ni­ties who are fed up with the re­al­ity of shark at­tacks and the alarm­ing in­crease of shark sight­ings in and around their wa­ters.

“Th­ese fre­quent shark sight­ings are not only hav­ing a detri­men­tal ef­fect on peo­ple’s recre­ational pur­suits, they are po­ten­tially re­duc­ing tourist num­bers, which im­pacts peo­ple’s busi­nesses and their liveli­hoods.”

Mr Wil­son said he had asked Mr Fry­den­berg to back his call for SMART drum lines to be in­stalled in crit­i­cal lo­ca­tions along the O’Con­nor coast­line.

Mr Fry­den­berg said across the beaches of Al­bany and Esper­ance, there had been two fa­tal shark at­tacks in the past five years.

“As ad­vo­cated by Fed­eral Mem­ber Rick Wil­son, the WA Gov­ern­ment should give con­sid­er­a­tion to the de­ploy­ment of SMART drum lines in a tar­geted way across key beaches on the south coast,” he said. “On av­er­age, 10 SMART drum lines could cover 15km of coast at a cost be­tween $290,000-$400,000.

This week’s re­lease of the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment doc­u­ment Shark Haz­ard Mit­i­ga­tion: An ap­proach for Western Aus­tralia specif­i­cally names Cheynes Beach, Wylie Bay and Sal­va­tion Bay.

The last time drum lines were im­ple­mented was in 2014 and they were scrapped shortly af­ter­wards by then-Premier Colin Bar­nett.

Al­bany MP Peter Watson said there was no sci­en­tific ev­i­dence to say the sys­tem was work­ing in NSW.

“It’s like the Fed­eral min­is­ter came out and said ‘we’re go­ing to do all this and NSW will lend us stuff, but there’s no sci­en­tific ev­i­dence to show it works’,” he said.

“I just think we have to look at other ways to solve the prob­lem.

“What the WA Gov­ern­ment has been do­ing is get­ting shark shields and de­vices that have shown to be much more suc­cess­ful than drum lines.”

Pic­ture: Dave Riggs@rig­gsaus­tralia

Fed­eral En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Josh Fry­den­berg says there have been two fa­tal shark at­tacks across the beaches of Al­bany and Esper­ance in the past five years.

A di­a­gram show­ing how SMART drum lines work.

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