Dave Kelly says the policy has a strong focus on protecting surfers and divers. (ABC News: Charlotte Hamlyn)
Two of the most recent fatal shark attacks in Western Australia have helped form the Labor Government’s shark mitigation strategy.
A beach enclosure will be erected at Falcon Beach, south of Perth, near where surfer Ben Gerring was fatally mauled by a shark last year.
And the shark monitoring network has been extended to Esperance on the south coast, after last month’s fatal attack on 17-year-old Laticia Brouwer.
Also as part of the strategy, surfers and divers will be able to access a $200 rebate on independently verified shark deterrents.
Focus on protecting surfers, divers
Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly said the policy had a strong focus on protecting surfers and divers in WA.
“Thirteen of the 15 [shark attack] victims since 2000 have been either surfers or divers,” he said.
“It makes most sense to us to provide additional protection to those individuals most at risk.”
The $200,000 commitment for the trial of deterrents will cover only 1,000 units, but Mr Kelly said it could be extended if it proved successful.
While only one device, the Shark Shield Freedom 7, currently has approval, Mr Kelly said a number of others were being tested.
“The previous government engaged the University of Western Australia to check the effectiveness of a range of shark deterrents out there in the marketplace,” he said.
“That report showed that the shark shield device deterred great whites in nine out of 10 interactions.”
Ben Gerring’s brother key to beach enclosure
Rick Gerring has been working with the Government on its shark policies. (ABC News: Charlotte Hamlyn)
Fatal shark attacks in WA since 2000
- Surfer Laeticia Brouwer: Kelp Beds, April 17, 2017
- Diver Doreen Collyer: Mindarie, June 5, 2016
- Surfer Ben Gerring: Mandurah, May 31, 2016
- Spearfisher Jay Muscat: Cheynes Beach, Dec 29, 2014
- Surfer Chris Boyd: Gracetown, Nov 23, 2013
- Surfer Ben Linden: Wedge Island, July 14, 2012
- Diver Peter Kurmann: Geographe Bay, March 31, 2012
- Diver George Wainwright: Rottnest Island, Oct 22, 2011
- Swimmer Bryn Martin: Cottesloe Beach, Oct 10, 2011
- Surfer Kyle Burden: Bunker Bay, Sept 4, 2011
- Surfer Nick Edwards: Gracetown, Aug 17, 2010
- Snorkeller Brian Guest: Port Kennedy, Dec 27, 2008
- Snorkeller Geoffrey Brazier: Abrolhos Islands, Mar 19, 2005
- Surfer Brad Smith: Gracetown, July 10, 2004
- Swimmer Ken Crew: North Cottesloe, Nov 6, 2000
Rick Gerring has been campaigning for better science-based shark mitigation measures since the death of his brother Ben in June last year.
He said the enclosure would go a long way to addressing the community’s fear of the water.
“It’s hit our community really hard,” he said.
“People are coming up to me and saying, ‘our children aren’t going in the water, my wife won’t let our kids go in the water’.
“That’s shocking for me. I want people in the water, I want people to enjoy our lifestyle, the same lifestyle I’ve grown up with.”
Mr Gerring also worked with the Government to come up with a plan to provide subsidies for personal shark deterrent devices.
“I really hope people do take them up and give themselves the best protection when they’re out in the water diving or surfing, which are two of my loves and passions,” he said.
“I don’t get in the water without a personal deterrent, it’s affected me that much.
“If we are protecting ourselves, we’re giving ourselves the best chance and hopefully we can enjoy what we love doing.”
Dave Kelly said Mr Gerring’s lobbying had encouraged the Government.
“Rick has convinced me that we should make available some money so that a beach enclosure be installed at Falcon bay,” he said.
“Obviously you can’t have a beach enclosure on every beach in Western Australia.
“But in discussions with Rick Gerring it seemed to us to be an appropriate thing to do to give the community — who have had a pretty rough time — some additional comfort to them when they want to go to the beach.”
Mr Kelly said Esperance would get two VR4 receivers, which can detect tagged sharks in the area.
Grants have also been made available to local councils to install signs with emergency numbers, designed to reduce emergency response times.