Greens (WA) Fisheries spokesman Diane Evers says a move by the State Government to invite the community to have their say about the non-lethal SMART drumline trial in Gracetown is unnecessary and shows it is uncertain about the effectiveness of the experiment.
The trials, which will look at feasible sites in the Gracetown area for the deployment of the lines, were announced recently despite opposition from many sectors, including the Greens.
Community input has been sought on two potential options for the trial. One option includes 12 SMART drumlines focused on surf breaks around a 9km stretch of coast in the Gracetown area. The second option includes 10 SMART drumlines to be deployed evenly, about 500m from shore, along a 11.5km stretch of coast.
Ms Evers said the feedback could only be provided via input on the drumline trial website, which has no option for those who were opposed to the trial.
“Instead Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly is urging input from people who mostly have no expertise with drumlines to guide the Government on where to place the lines,” she said.
“If the Government has no idea where to place the lines, then it will surely have no idea of whether the trials will work.
“The cost of running it has been estimated at $5 million to $7 million, as the technology relies on a crew being available at all times to go out to rescue the shark, tag it and take it further out to sea. Continued use of this technology could cost much more, and a trial cannot prove that it does work, only that it doesn’t.
“Mr Kelly says the move is aimed at making the trial transparent, but it will just encourage ill-informed input that will not provide any robust findings.”
Ms Evers said she was pleased that the trial would be overseen by the respected Peter Klinken, but she was doubtful a well-reasoned conclusion could be derived from the trial if its parameters were set up in such a haphazard way.
“There has been nothing to suggest the technology will be effective in WA. What we need is for people to take more care by being aware of issues that might bring sharks closer to the beach such as whale carcasses, schools of fish, and possibly even the baited drumlines,” she said.
“Surfers can now take advantage of the personal shark deterrent rebate and check the Sharksmart website for known sightings or tagged sharks. It is up to individuals to take personal responsibility and stay out of the water if there are known to be sharks in the area.”