Ocean Guardian chief executive officer Lindsay Lyon has questioned parties over their support for the implementation of SMART drumlines, saying there was no evidence to show they were effective.
Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg released a proposal recommending the state government deploy 176 SMART drum lines across the state’s coast.
Mr Lyon, of the shark deterrent technology company, said SMART drumlines had no scientific evidence to show they reduced the risk of shark attacks.
“The proposed drumlines could cost WA tax payers up to $100m over 5 years,” he said.
“This figure could easily equate to 500,000 divers and surfers receiving the state government’s $200 rebate which would surely cover 100 per cent of all the divers and surfers in WA with a proven deterrent device.”
With 13 of the 15 shark fatalities across the state in the last 15 years having involved surfers or divers, Mr Lyon said personal protection and education was the only reliable method.
“If 100 per cent of surfers and divers used personal deterrents, you will have solved over 70 per cent of the fatalities – no safety product in any category can remove 100 per cent of risk,” he said.
“Given the often-remote locations of these fatalities the only reliable method of offering protection for these ocean users is personal protection,” he said.
“The policy of educating and encouraging people to take personal responsibility for ocean shark safety, given the extremely low risk, should be considered good economic public policy.”
Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly has echoed these sentiments and said the proposal acknowledged the drumlines did not offer 100 per cent protection to all beachgoers.
Since the proposal was released in early July, Mr Frydenberg has supported calls from O’Connor MP Rick Wilson for the drumline proposal to be extended to critical locations between Albany and Esperance.
I don’t think you can put a cost on people’s lives.Member for Roe Peter Rundle.
Mr Frydenberg said the drumlines should be considered for the sake of public safety and that around 10 SMART drumlines could cover 15 kilometres of coast for between $290,000 – $400,000.
Member for Roe Peter Rundle has also supported the proposal including Esperance and said it was one that needed to be taken seriously.
“I think the offer from the federal government needs to be considered by the state government,” he said.
“When I met with New South Wales Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair and he was very supportive of the program and the impact it was having.
“I understand the issue was with the cost of implementing the drumlines but I don’t think you can put a cost on people’s lives.
“I still think it is an offer worth looking at because it’s not an offer you generally get from a government from another part of Australia and of a different party as well.
“It is a serious offer and they’re willing to do it.”
More than 2000 West Australians have purchased a subsidised personal shark deterrent in the last 12 months.