Ac­tivists bid to halt drum lines

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Front Page - War­ren Hately

A pe­ti­tion lodged in WA’s Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day calls for a re­think of the pro­posed SMART drum line trial at Grace­town as ac­tivists gear up to fight the project.

Lo­cal surfers and com­mu­nity mem­bers have also aired fears about any di­rect ac­tion cam­paign, sim­i­lar to the one launched dur­ing the 2014 baited drum line op­er­a­tions, car­ried out near Capes surf breaks.

The con­cerns were spurred as a group of Perth-based pro-shark cam­paign­ers lodged their op­po­si­tion to the SMART drum line project, ex­pected to start in Jan­uary with 10 sets of lines along the Grace­town coast.

Healthy Oceans Need Sharks cam­paigner Donna Mar­tin said cit­i­zens such as her­self with back­grounds in shark re­search also had the back­ing of WA’s Greens.

“We are work­ing hard to stop the trial, but if that fails, we will do all that we can to en­sure that the trial is con­ducted prop­erly, as hu­manely as pos­si­ble, and ter­mi­nated in the event of an un­ac­cept­able num­ber of in­juries or deaths,” Mrs Mar­tin said in a me­dia state­ment.

“We will be pre­sent­ing a pe­ti­tion of over 6000 sig­na­tures to the WA Par­lia­ment.”

Greens South West MLC Diane Evers said there was no ev­i­dence the trial would work and other op­tions needed ex­plo­ration rather than risk­ing po­ten­tial shark deaths.

She said the drum lines could in­crease at­tacks, with sharks drawn to baited hooks.

“The Gov­ern­ment was pushed into this,” she said. “

The peo­ple who are call­ing for this (SMART drum lines) re­ally don’t like sharks. They want to see them all killed.”

South West Safe Shark group con­venor Keith Hal­nan said ac­tivists con­fused lethal drum lines with the new tech­nol­ogy, and over­looked the chance to tag live sharks and gather cru­cial data about WA’s great white shark pop­u­la­tion not oth­er­wise avail­able.

“I don’t think the peo­ple and fam­i­lies who live and surf in Grace­town will take very kindly to any­one try­ing to in­ter­fere with

these tri­als,” he told the Times.

“They’ve been wait­ing for them for a long time.”

WA Fish­eries Min­is­ter Dave Kelly said the in­tent of the trial was to catch, tag and re­lo­cate white sharks, not kill them.

“At the con­clu­sion of the trial, the chief sci­en­tist, Pro­fes­sor Pe­ter Klinken, will un­der­take an in­de­pen­dent as­sess­ment on the ef­fec­tive­ness of SMART drum lines in re­duc­ing shark at­tacks,” he said.

“Un­like the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment with their shark cull, we have been trans­par­ent and open to com­mu­nity feed­back.

“We will con­tinue to be trans­par­ent about the trial im­ple­men­ta­tion by work­ing with the ref­er­ence group.

“The McGowan Gov­ern­ment’s shark mit­i­ga­tion strat­egy is based on sci­ence and any long-term de­ci­sion on SMART drum lines will also be based on sci­ence.”

Vasse MLA Libby Met­tam pushed hard for gov­ern­ment in­ter­ven­tion fol­low­ing re­cent shark at­tacks, as well as whale strand­ings be­lieved to draw more sharks into the re­gion.

“The trial must be given the best op­por­tu­nity to suc­ceed so we have an un­der­stand­ing of how ef­fec­tive SMART drum lines could be if in­tro­duced at other lo­ca­tions along the west coast,” she said.

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