December 23, 2017

Government needs to act now on shark attack prevention

New evidence from the CSIRO on shark numbers off the WA coast should be a game changer for the McGowan Government’s approach to shark attack mitigation, according to Shadow Tourism Minister and Liberal Member for Vasse Libby Mettam.

Ms Mettam said preliminary results from a CSIRO study that showed the current shark population off the WA coast was between 750 and 2250 compared with 750 and 1030 on the East Coast of Australia should be ringing alarm bells for the WA Government.

“These statistics add weight to the concerning reality that there have been 15 shark attack fatalities in WA since 2000, many of which have occurred in my electorate of Vasse,” Ms Mettam said.

“The complete absence of a strategy to manage shark numbers means we can expect them to grow exponentially.

“This debate has to be taken from the ‘sharks over people brigade’ that is currently holding the McGowan Government hostage and given its rightful priority as a serious public safety issue.

“We cannot afford to become like Reunion Island, where, in addition to the risk to public safety, the shark issue has dramatically changed the beach culture and has crippled tourism.

“As the Margaret River Region opens its doors to a swelling population of tourists, the Fisheries Minister should refrain from patting himself on the back and look at what more he can do to address the public safety of the hundreds of thousands of people taking to beaches around the State this summer.”

Ms Mettam said it was the previous Liberal-led Government that had invested in science to better understand shark populations and behaviour, while the current Government had provided only a limited subsidy, which in effect, was of benefit only to scuba divers.

“I remain convinced that providing $200 towards a $750 commercial product for 2,000 scuba divers is not an appropriate Government response to what is a major public safety issue,” Ms Mettam said.

“It’s nothing more than a token gesture.

“The consumers I have spoken to say the subsidy has had no impact on their decision to purchase, they are more interested in independent scientific testing.

“The NSW Government has sponsored independent testing on a WA-made device designed for surfboard riders; that is a genuine investment in science and technology.

“The clever buoy, again a WA development, is being deployed under a $10 million agreement in California and is also being deployed for another summer off Bondi Beach, again a genuine investment in science and technology.”

Media Contact
Denice Rice
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