More surfer shark subsidies
The WA Government will dish out subsidies for 500 more personal shark deterrents for surfers and divers to help keep them safe in the water this summer.
The Government has allocated $100,000 to provide $200 to each person who buys one of two approved devices, the Surf+ or the Freedom 7.
Prices vary, but the Freedom 7 device retails on the internet for about $500.
Acting Fisheries Minister Roger Cook said the personal shark deterrent program had been embraced by surfers and divers with more than 2800 West Australians purchasing a device in the past 18 months.
“The expansion of this worldfirst subsidy program allows more ocean users to purchase a scientifically proven device with the confidence it will significantly reduce their chance of a shark interaction,” he said.
Earlier this year, shadow fisheries minister and Vasse MLA Libby Mettam disclosed figures showing uptake of the subsidised devices was minimal across the Capes.
Just six of the 1650 subsidies were for people living in the Capes region and surfers were underwhelmingly represented in the overall scheme.
Only 27 applicants in total identified as surfers, while 1259 divers and 171 spearfishers received subsidies for the Ocean Guardian devices.
“The Government should stop wasting taxpayer funds on a program for individual devices and for a program that is clearly not working, and is focused on the individual and not public safety,” Ms Mettam said in August.“If individuals want to purchase a personal deterrent device, they have the opportunity to do so but this should not come at the expense of the taxpayer.”
Ocean Guardian chief executive Lindsay Lyon said the device was a good investment for surfers.
“If more than 70 per cent of all fatalities are surfers and divers, with the incidents occurring usually in remote areas, the only practical and economically viable way to offer protection is a personal shark deterrent,” he said.
Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly and Ocean Guardian chief executive Lindsay Lyon with the Surf+ device.