Drum line de­lay frus­trates

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Front Page - Taelor Pelusey

The trial of non-lethal drum lines due to be­gin in Grace­town next month will not start un­til it is ap­proved by the State’s En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency.

The WA Gov­ern­ment caved in to pub­lic pres­sure in Au­gust and agreed to a trial of 10 SMART (shark man­age­ment alert in real time) drum lines along 11.5km of coast in Grace­town.

The an­nounce­ment was fol­lowed by a con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod from Septem­ber to Oc­to­ber, and has now been re­ferred to the EPA for a seven-day con­sul­ta­tion, which fin­ished this week.

De­part­ment of Pri­mary In­dus- tries and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment op­er­a­tions and com­pli­ance ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Ja­son Moyni­han said the re­fer­ral to the EPA was to en­sure the trial was well planned, trans­par­ent and had all nec­es­sary ap­provals.

But lobby groups and Op­po­si­tion MPs who ral­lied for the trial are frus­trated by per­ceived de­lays.

South West Safe Shark Group con­venor Keith Hal­nan told the Times the “long, drawn out process” was un­nec­es­sary, given the trial was first an­nounced about five months ago. “We’re see­ing more great whites off the coast and they’re stick­ing around for longer, so the longer this is de­layed, the more dan­ger we’re putting the pub- lic in,” he said. Vasse MLA and shadow tourism min­is­ter Libby Met­tam said the trial should have been op­er­at­ing dur­ing the busy hol­i­day and tourist sea­son.

“I ques­tion why this con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod is hap­pen­ing now when the State Gov­ern­ment fi­nally com-

mit­ted to this ini­tia­tive in Au­gust 2018,” she said.

“They have had over four months to go through this process and as I un­der­stand this seven-day con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod could pos­si­bly ex­tend fur­ther, de­pend­ing on the out­come.”

The drum line pro­gram will catch, tag and re­lease sharks off­shore, and is mod­elled on a pro­gram used in New South Wales.

The trial will de­ter­mine the ef­fec­tive­ness of the tech­nol­ogy as a non-lethal way of re­duc­ing the risk of shark at­tacks.

But de­spite lo­cal pres­sure for in­creased shark mit­i­ga­tion, it is not with­out its crit­ics.

In Novem­ber, a pe­ti­tion was lodged in WA’s Par­lia­ment by Perth-based cam­paign­ers call­ing for a re­think of the trial.

Mr Moyni­han said the in­ten­tion was to be­gin the trial “as soon as pos­si­ble”.

“The start date of the trial will be de­ter­mined through the EPA process and ap­point­ment of the suc­cess­ful con­trac­tor,” he said.

“The ten­ders are now be­ing as­sessed by a panel which is headed by the De­part­ment of Fi­nance and in­cludes rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the De­part­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment.”

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