Call for Falcon to be included in drumline trial, safety at Mandurah Pro also in focus

Safety in the water: Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup has written to Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly to call for Mandurah to be included in WA's SMART drumlines trial.
Safety in the water: Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup has written to Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly to call for Mandurah to be included in WA's SMART drumlines trial.

The State Opposition will this week call for Mandurah to be included in the WA Government’s latest shark mitigation strategy, with safety at October’s Mandurah Pro surfing event also in focus.

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly announced in August a 12-month trial of SMART drumlines, which have been used on the east coast, will take place in Gracetown in WA’s south west.

However, with Mandurah suffering a number of shark-related tragedies in recent years, an extension of the trial is being called for.

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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Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup and Vasse MP Libby Mettam will contact Mr Kelly this week to call for Falcon and Yallingup to be included in the drumline trial.

A spokeswoman from Mr Kelly’s office said the Government had invested heavily in shark mitigation strategies, including subsidising the cost of personal shark deterrents, the use of drones and helicopters and the installation of the Beach Emergency Number system.

In relation to the Mandurah Pro, she said funding had been provided to the World Surf League (WSL) and Surfing WA for additional safety measures.

A WSL spokesman said the organisation was excited to return to WA.

"Surfing WA has world-class shark mitigation plans and procedures in place that include jet skis and a fully trained water safety team that will be in the water at all times while competition is running,” he said.

“There will also be surveillance drones in the air throughout the event. These measures have been in place for all of Surfing WA's events this year.”

WA made global headlines for all the wrong reasons in April when the Margaret River Pro was cancelled following shark-related incidents in Gracetown.

Mr Kirkup said the State Government needed to do more to protect beach-goers.

“I think it’s imperative they offer up every single mitigation measure to protect participants during the Mandurah Pro,” he said.

“I would love to see as many surveillance options deployed during the Pro, which would include a full-time helicopter or spotter plane and constantly roving surf lifesaving options like SafeWaves or Port Bouvard Surf Life Saving Club.

“This is a great opportunity to showcase both the talent and beautiful beaches from the Peel region and we should throw everything we can at this to make sure we mitigate the risk of shark attack as much as possible.”

More on the Mandurah Pro:

City of Mandurah chief executive Mark Newman said Surfing WA had “huge experience” in running safe events.

“It is very, very rare for a surfing event to be cancelled due to worries about sharks, and Surfing WA is very confident that this will not be an issue for the Mandurah Pro,” he said.

“They have jet skis in the water the whole time and a large number of observers.

“Although some surfing events have been shut down for a few hours, the Margaret River Pro is the first major event to be cancelled due to sharks.”

Would you like to see Mandurah beaches included in the WA drumline trial? Do you have an opinion on this issue? E-mail a letter to the editor at gareth.mcknight@fairfaxmedia.com.au.