South West Greens MLC Diane Evers has urged the WA Labor Government to do all it can to support surfing-specific personal shark deterrents in the wake of the tragic news that the search for Esperance surfer Andrew Sharpe was called off yesterday.
Ms Evers, The Greens (WA) spokesperson for fisheries and marine, extended her condolences to Mr Sharpe’s family, which acknowledged in a statement on Monday that the surfer of 40 years understood the risks associated with the recreation.
Earlier this year, the WA Government announced a 12-month extension of its Smart shark drumline trial, bringing the total cost of the trial to $6.4 million, but Ms Evers said this investment would have been better spent in providing ocean users WITH more non-lethal protection.
Ms Evers has previously thrown her support behind scientific trials of personal shark deterrents, encouraging the Government to expand its rebate scheme if they proved effective at repelling the predators.
Ms Evers also encouraged the Government to avoid responding to panic calls for lethal responses to sharks in WA waters, cautioning that such debate was based on fear, instead of scientifically-led mitigation and personal risk management.
QUOTES ATTRIBUTED TO DIANE EVERS MLC:
“The primary concern today is that a member of our Western Australian community has lost their life and I extend my condolences to Andrew Sharpe’s family for their terrible loss at this time.
“Western Australians by-and-large understand the risks that come when we interact with our environment, though this, of course, cannot compensate for when fatal incidents occur.
“The likelihood is that there will always be risk associated with interacting with the ocean and a fear response to these dangers is not uncommon.
“However, I will continue to urge the Government to invest in rational, effective responses that will increase safety for the surfing community.
“Instead of spending millions of dollars on ineffective research exercises, such as a drumline trial with a two per cent success-rate, the Government should be doing it all it can to ensure an accessible supply of scientifically effective deterrents to surfers.
“Currently a $200-dollar rebate scheme only applies to two specific products, when there is more technology available to be developed and harnessed.
“This includes the development of static ocean deterrents, such as those emitting low-frequency electrical pulses, or magnetic and visual stimuli to deter sharks without any harm to marine life.
“Such measures would not eliminate all marine danger, but would at least ensure that recreational lovers of our oceans will be equipped with some method of non-lethal defence.”
GET IN TOUCH:
Hon. Diane Evers
MLC for South West
(08) 9486 8070