February 9,2018

McGowan Government in denial over shark threat

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly is endangering the lives of ocean users in Western Australia by knowingly distorting the facts around shark numbers, according to Shadow Tourism Minister Libby Mettam.

Ms Mettam said the Minister’s claim that the number of adult Great White sharks had not increased ignored the fact that the data did not include juvenile sharks under 4m in length and was aimed at deflecting attention from the fact the WA shark population was double that of the East Coast.

“The Minister is using this single fact as justification for his Government’s failure to develop a comprehensive shark mitigation policy to better protect WA ocean users,” Ms Mettam said.

“The McGowan Government must stop burying its head in the sand and take this public safety issue seriously.

“We also cannot underestimate the impact this is having on tourism with the last three major water events in the Margaret River Region cancelled or disrupted due to intruding sharks.”

Ms Mettam said she could not understand the McGowan Government’s continued stubborn refusal to even consider options other than a $200 subsidy on a single product for 2000 people.

“No policy other than not to allow anyone to swim anywhere in the ocean is going to completely eliminate the risk of shark attack but that is not an excuse to do nothing,” Ms Mettam said.

“Smart drum lines, which are not operated to kill sharks but to manage and track them, clever bouys, netting and population management – which may include reopening shark fisheries – should all be options on the table for this Government.

“The reality is there have been 15 fatal shark attacks in WA since 2000, many in my electorate of Vasse.

“In the absence of any significant management by the McGowan Government we can only expect this number to grow.”

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