MORE than 630 Western Australians have accessed the McGowan Government’s world-first trial shark deterrent subsidy and have greater protection in the ocean, according to Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly.
But the government still needs more people to take advantage of its $200 rebate so it can undertake a review of the program.
Mr Kelly said the trial subsidy for 1000 independently verified devices was part of a range of shark hazard mitigation strategies driven by the government’s focus on science and new technologies to help protect water users.
The $200 rebates are available through retail outlets, who sell the approved shark deterrent device.
Details on how the scheme works are available via the SharkSmart website at http://www.sharksmart.com.au
SharkSmart is also the place to go for families to be informed about alerts, tagged shark detections, reported shark sightings, and safety tips, as families plan school holiday activities.
Mr Kelly said the government urged all water users to help each other by reporting all shark sightings to Water Police on 9442 8600.
“This will ensure that SharkSmart and the Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA) Twitter service can alert the community and that beach managers can close beaches, if necessary,’’ he said.
During the school holidays, the SLSWA Perth and South-West helicopters will be patrolling beaches along the coast and also reporting any shark sightings to Water Police as well.
Mr Kelly said the government expected the rate of rebates claimed would accelerate quickly as the weather warmed up over spring.
“The University of Western Australia carried out research into the Shark Shield Freedom 7 device and found it works nine out of 10 times against great white sharks,’’ he said.
“Once all 1000 rebates have been claimed as part of this trial, we will undertake a review of the program and consider providing similar opportunities in the future as more devices receive independent verification.
“There is no one simple solution to reduce the risk of serious shark interactions with water users, but attacks are rare and WA has a multi-faceted approach to keep the community informed about real and potential shark hazards.’’
“I also urge people to report shark sightings to Water Police on 9442 8600 that way you can help other water users and, by all means, also let your social media network know about the sighting, but call Water Police first so we can spread the message far and wide.’’