SLSWA helicopter patrols start

Yanchep Lagoon is one of the beaches SLAWA helicopters are now patrolling on weekends with daily patrols to start on October 1.

HELICOPTER patrols of WA beaches, including Yanchep Lagoon, to help warn people about rips and sharks started again on September 1.

The state-funded Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA) patrols for the metropolitan area and South West have started three weeks earlier than in the past.

The McGowan Government said last season, the helicopter patrols, which ran seven weeks longer than usual, provided 90 direct warnings to ocean users, patrolled WA beaches for 989 hours, covered more than 100,000km of coastline and spotted 522 sharks.

The metropolitan services run between Port Bouvard to the south, Yanchep to the north, and Rottnest Island to the west on weekends and will then move to daily patrols from October 1, to April 30 next year.

The South West service will run between Bunbury and Margaret River on weekends from September 1, with services increasing to daily patrols from November 19 to February 3 next year before reverting back to weekend patrols.

The September and April school holidays will also include daily services.

Since March 2017, the government has provided almost $12 million to partner with SLSWA to improve beach safety.

The McGowan Government said it has a comprehensive shark mitigation strategy which includes beach, helicopter and drone patrols, a world-first personal shark deterrent subsidy for divers and surfers, beach enclosures, an extended shark monitoring network to Esperance and tagging operations as well as a Smart drumline trial proposed for off Gracetown.

Formal consultation on the Smart drumline trial will begin on September 13 with the community asked to provide their input on the Smart drumline trial, as well as their views on the deployment of VR4 receivers in the Capes region.

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Premier Mark McGowan said surf life saving volunteers do an incredible job and have become such a prominent feature on WA beaches.

“The state government-funded helicopters are also such an important surveillance tool to help keep our community safe, whether it be from a rip or sharks,’’ he said.

“The patrols are just one component of the government’s comprehensive shark mitigation strategy which is helping keep Western Australians safe.”

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly said the risk of encountering a shark was very low.

“We will soon commence formal community consultation on the Gracetown Smart drumline trial which will include seeking feedback on the location of the Smart drumlines.

“On top of this, we have decided we will extend the shark monitoring network in the South West and will also be seeking the community’s views about the location of these receivers during formal consultation.”