Drum line delay frustrates
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.”