Drum lines ditched, but tagging to stay

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
SMART drumline trials off the coast of Gracetown.
Camera IconSMART drumline trials off the coast of Gracetown. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian, Daniel Wilkins

The State Government will discontinue its drum line strategy off the Capes coast, with evidence the approach is not effective.

On Wednesday, Fisheries Minister and Bunbury MLA Don Punch said another $5 million would be invested in shark hazard mitigation, but the SMART drum line trial would end on Thursday.

The Government will focus on monitoring and tagging sharks, with drum lines no longer rto be used on advice from WA’s Chief Scientist Peter Klinken.

Mr Punch said an independent review had concluded SMART drum line technology was “not effective at catching white sharks and provides no demonstrable value in reducing the potential risk posed by white sharks off the South West coast”.

But Mr Punch described the separate white shark tagging program as “highly effective”. The drum lines caught just two great whites during the two-year run, while tagging has made contact with 51 great whites since 2019.

“While the risk of a shark attack is low, the $2.8m upgrade to our shark monitoring network and funding for increased tagging will ensure we’re better informed than ever on the movement and whereabouts of white sharks,” Mr Punch said.

“We now have scientific evidence establishing SMART drumlines are not effective at catching or reducing the potential risk posed by white sharks, and funding can be redirected to expand demonstratively effective shark mitigation initiatives to keep ocean users as safe as possible.”

The trial had served its purpose in gathering data for the Chief Scientist’s assessment, the MLA said.

The latest investment includes support for Surfing WA, continued rebates on personal shark deterrents, and beach enclosures at some locations.

Importantly, the detection range of monitoring receivers will also be extended.

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