Shark Management in Western Australia
January 27, 2018
I rise to speak about the latest noise and headlines concerning shark numbers in Western Australia.
We West Australians love the beach.
We have some of the best surf in the world, the best beaches in the world and one of the best lifestyles in the world.
We're really proud of this fact.
But one of the greatest challenges our state faces is how we balance our love of the ocean with the reality of shark management.
Following the CSIRO report released last week, we now know that western and southern Australia are home to some 1,500 adult great white sharks.
When you include the juvenile sharks, that number climbs substantially higher.
This makes our great white shark population significantly larger than anywhere else in Australia and is possibly why we have had 15 fatal shark attacks in the last 17 years.
It is clear that we need to have a reasoned, intelligent, thoughtful discussion about shark management in my state.
We need to look at what other states have done in this policy area and see if there are more efficient, more effective preventive measures that can be adopted.
I'm not advocating for the cull of sharks or for the lethal drum lines on the beach but I do want do see our state wake up and do something regarding shark management given the high number that have been recorded in the south-west.
Our approach could be to follow the New South Wales model, where smart drum lines are employed for different beaches in different locations.
Smart drum lines are being trialled in New South Wales and are a humane alternative to the lethal drum line approach that has been adopted previously in Western Australia.
Smart drum lines are not designed to kill but they are designed to relocate the sharks.
Technology placed off beaches alerts authorities to the presence of a shark caught in the system.
Those considered dangerous are then tagged for research purposes, which is important, monitored and relocated further offshore when safe to do so.
On behalf of my regional Liberal colleagues Andrew Hastie, Nola Marino and Rick Wilson and their constituents, I call on our state fisheries minister, Dave Kelly, to expand our shark mitigation strategies.
Currently our state government's bandaid solution has been to give $200 to 1,000 surfers and divers to purchase shark deterrent devices.
Western Australia's government must rethink its sharks policy.
We need a policy which protects human life, gives Western Australians confidence to enjoy our ocean, but at the same time minimises the impact on the marine life.