WA election promises have started coming in thick and fast with the Liberal Party announcing a new shark mitigation policy.
Shark attacks continue to dominate conversations along the coast with eight fatalities in the country for 2020 alone.
As a result, the state opposition announced on December 19, that its mitigation policy would include drones for all Surf Lifesaving WA clubs, aerial patrols in Esperance, a whale carcass removal strategy and an imminent threat SMART drumline plan.
The Liberal Party promised $27 million towards the policy.
Party leader Zak Kirkup said the plan was about keeping West Australians safe today and into the future.
"We can't afford to invest in just one strategy and hope that it works. Shark mitigation requires a multi-faceted approach to ensure we are being as pro-active as possible," he said.
Since elected in 2017, WA Labor introduced a rebate for personal shark deterrents, Beach Emergency Number Signs (BEN), a SMART drumline trial and extension to the shark monitoring network.
Fisheries minister Peter Tinley said the government's strategy was the most comprehensive approach in the country with a range of tools and actions to help keep ocean users safe.
"It's good to see the Liberals have seen the value in the mitigation strategies the McGowan Government have introduced," he said.
"The McGowan Government has invested $36 million in a multi-faceted plan that is the most detailed in WA history.
"It includes scientific non-lethal SMART drumline trial, Se Sense awareness campaign, SharkSmart WA app and website, comprehensive Surf Lifesaving WA beach and aerial patrols and world first subsidy for divers and surfers' shark deterrent.
"We will continue to listen to the science when it comes to best practice in shark mitigation and keep looking to improve and enhance the we have put in place."
Shadow Fisheries Minister Libby Mettam said public safety should be the number one priority - regardless if people were in Perth or in regional WA.
"Our plan will provide for extra VR4 receivers and it will invest in an integrated beach safety warning system that uses information from all the relevant agencies, including fisheries, water police, surf lifesaving and local government, to ensure that beachgoers have a coordinated alert system," Ms Mettam said.
"Our beach safety alert system can be smarter. We will also be bringing this technology to WA from Canada to ensure real time alerts are faster and that we're investing in this technology here."
The Liberals plan includes:
- $15.6 million commitment to continue support for existing Aerial Shark Patrols;
- $24,000 to purchase eight additional temporary SMART drumlines to be deployed in case of imminent threat (two each to be based in Geraldton, Mandurah/Perth, Margaret River region and Esperance). To be deployed as necessary by existing fisheries officers in each region;
- $450,000 for six additional VR4 receivers in 2021-22 to fill gaps in the existing network in the metropolitan and regional areas;
- $100,000 to transition the existing tag detection system that is based in Canada to a Western Australian based system that could provide more accurate real-time updates;
- $200,000 Integrated beach safety warning system that will collaborate inputs across Fisheries, SLSWA, LGA, Water Police and creation of a co-ordinated software and mobile app;
- $1 million over 4 years to fund new fixed wing aerial patrols in Esperance over the summer months;
- $400,000 for supply of drones to every Surf Life Saving Club in WA that wants it, with appropriate training and ongoing support;
- $1.5 million over three years to continue to fund additional beach enclosures at locations in metropolitan and regional areas;
- $1.5 million for research - $500,000 for shark risk mitigation, $500,000 for shark abundance research (including mapping the number of sharks) and $500,000 to conduct feasibility studies into potential ocean pool locations;
- $2 million allocated to a technology fund to enable grants to be made for emerging technology that keeps beach goers safe;
- $2.2 million over four years ($550,000 per annum) to fund the cost of bronze medallion surf lifesaving training for volunteer surf life savers; and
- $2 million for the Department of Fisheries assuming financial responsibility for whale carcass removal regardless of where the carcass is located.