Government decision to trial SMART drumlines welcomed in Mandurah

Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup has welcomed the State Government’s decision to trial SMART drumlines in Gracetown as a potential shark deterrent.

The debate over the best methods to protect surfers and swimmers in the water has raged over recent years and is of particular significance to the Mandurah community.

This conversation reached fever pitch when Mandurah surfer Ben Gerring was killed by a shark at Falcon Beach in June 2016 and Singleton teen Laeticia Brouwer met the same fate in November 2017 near Esperance.

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The State Government has subsidised the cost of personal shark deterrents developed by Perth company Shark Shield – however the refusal to explore the use of drumlines has previously been met by criticism from Mandurah’s surfing community.

Non-lethal SMART drumlines have been used in northern NSW since 2015 to catch, tag, relocate and release sharks.

Fisheries minister Dave Kelly said the State Government was open to any shark mitigation measure that is backed up by science, with a 12-month trial in Gracetown to take place.

“Unfortunately the information provided by NSW is insufficient, therefore in the best interests of all Western Australians we will conduct our own trial here in WA,” he said.

“Consistent with the NSW trial, the WA trial will be a catch, tag, relocate and release program. It is not intended to kill sharks.

“Our trial will be for WA’s coastline, specific to our local beaches, using local expertise.

“The purpose of the trial will be to determine the effectiveness of SMART drumlines in reducing shark attacks, and this will be done through an independent scientific analysis of the trial by Chief Scientist Peter Klinken.”

The Mail reported earlier this year that WA company Shark Alert International wanted to use their drone technology as a safety measure along the Mandurah coastline – but there has been no progress in relation to this.

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Mr Kirkup has welcomed the McGowan Government’s backflip on shark mitigation.

"Broadly the community in Mandurah has been telling me they want to see these SMART drumlines rolled out off our coastline,” he said.

"While this is an important first step, I call upon the WA Government to immediately expand this trial to cover the beaches off Mandurah

"We know the devastating impact sharks have had on our community locally, and if the WA Government was committed to protecting Mandurah residents and tourists they would trial SMART drumlines here.

“I fear that after putting off the decision to protect ocean users for so long, the WA Government have once again forgotten Mandurah and I'll be making sure I fight in Parliament to get the protection off our coastline that we deserve.

“This decision is also a win for the hundreds of protestors who travelled to Parliament House to rally for the introduction of the SMART drumlines and for the more than 4000 people who signed a petition urging the McGowan Government to implement this measure.”

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