Anger over drum line snub

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Front Page - War­ren Hately

Capes surfers have re­acted an­grily to an­other re­jec­tion of lo­cal SMART drum line tri­als, with surfers cast­ing doubts on Fish­eries Min­is­ter Dave Kelly’s $75 mil­lion cost es­ti­mate.

The is­sue came to a head again this week af­ter Fed­eral En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Josh Fry­den­berg re­leased an un­funded plan for 180 “SMART” — shark man­age­ment alert in real time — drum lines for WA’s coast. The West Aus­tralian re­ported Mr Fry­den­berg say­ing the cost over six months would be about $7 mil­lion. Mr Kelly had pre­vi­ously claimed four sites would cost $75 mil­lion.

“Given the high in­ci­dence of shark at­tacks and the re­cent re­lease of a CSIRO re­port into great white num­bers, now is an op­por­tune time for the WA Gov­ern­ment to take fur­ther steps to pro­tect cit­i­zens from shark at­tacks,” Mr Fry­den­berg said. He pro­posed that Grace­town would have 16 drum lines as part of 31 lines al­lo­cated to Capes surf breaks.

“Drum lines in ad­di­tional lo­ca­tions where at­tacks have oc­curred should also be con­sid­ered by the WA Gov­ern­ment,” Mr Fry­den­berg said.

But Mr Kelly re­buffed the lat­est of­fer, say­ing more sci­en­tific ev­i­dence was needed.

South West Safe Shark Group con­venor Keith Hal­nan said ur­gent ac­tion was needed. “We’ve got to get SMART drum lines hap­pen­ing along our coast . . . It’s a no-brainer,” he said.

“Our tourism brand is be­ing trashed.

“There’s an in­cor­rect per­cep­tion about our beaches grow­ing.”

Mar­garet River Recre­ational Surfers pres­i­dent Jim Ross feared the is­sue was buried in the “po­lit­i­cal s...fight” between Lib­er­als in NSW and Can­berra and La­bor in WA.

“Ev­ery time the ar­gu­ment comes up they say ‘ we need more re­search’ but isn’t that how things start?” Mr Ross asked.

“Here . . . there’s a very, very high chance of peo­ple get­ting taken. “I’d like to see a trial. “No one loses face that way.” Shark at­tack sur­vivor Alex Travaglini said the WA Gov­ern­ment had made its po­si­tion on drum lines clear but other

mit­i­ga­tion ef­forts should be ex­plored.

“What I would like to know is what are they go­ing to do in the mean­time,” he said.

“The sub­sidy to pur­chase a per­sonal de­ter­rent de­vice isn’t enough. Our kids, the most vul­ner­a­ble, can’t use the prod­uct.”

Mr Travaglini said WA could be a “world leader in shark at­tack mit­i­ga­tion strate­gies”.

“In­stead, very lit­tle is be­ing done to pro­tect ocean users from fur­ther fa­tal en­coun­ters,” he told the Times.

“Now is a time to be proac­tive, in­no­va­tive and de­ci­sive.”

In re­sponse to in­quiries, Mr Kelly stood by his Bud­get claim.

“Both the WA cost­ings and the Fed­eral En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter’s cost­ings are based on the pub­licly avail­able ten­der and con­tract in­for­ma­tion for the NSW drum line trial,” Mr Kelly said.

“The Fed­eral Min­is­ter’s pro­posal ex­cludes key surf breaks.”

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