Renewed push on drumlines

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Ex-Fisheries minister Dave Kelly.
Camera IconEx-Fisheries minister Dave Kelly. Credit: The Sunday Times

A change in Fisheries Minister has triggered renewed calls for further action on the region’s smart drumline trial.

South West Safe Shark Group convenor Keith Halnan last week criticised ousted minister Dave Kelly for failing to implement the full NSW model on which the 15-month program was based.

And as the Capes trial heads towards the 12-month mark, Mr Halnan said it was critical baits were changed and cut to produce true scientific data on great whites in the region.

“We’re glad to see the back of him,” Mr Halnan said.

“We’re paying a contractor more than $6000 per day to not even catch great whites. It’s been a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

Mr Halnan was scathing at WA Government inaction on disposal of rotting whale carcasses, which this year closed some surf breaks for months.

Mr Kelly came under scrutiny this year for comments he made regarding the drumline trial and faced accusations he was trying to sabotage it after his department referred the trial to the Environmental Protection Authority.

Mr Kelly is thought to have opposed a drumline trial, but was overruled by the Premier.

It later emerged he intervened again at the 11th hour to remove South West tourist drawcard Bunker Bay — the site of a fatal shark attack in 2011 — from a list of beaches to be considered for a shark monitoring device.

MLA Peter Tinley’s office said the incoming Minister was getting up to speed on the new portfolio.

A spokesman told the Times he had sought departmental advice on the drumline trial and would consider options as well as input from other stakeholders.

“The Minister understands that the 12-month trial of drumlines expires in February and that its results will be reviewed by WA’s chief scientist Peter Klinken, who will then provide advice and make recommendations as to whether it should be extended,” the spokesman said. “He will not be rushed into making any decisions until he has considered all advice. However, any decision he makes will be based on the best available scien-tific evidence as to how to proceed.”

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam backed Mr Halnan’s position and called for the trial to be extended with the “more rigorous” NSW provisions in place.

“So far, concerns relate to the departure from the NSW trial, such as community concerns regarding bait used, configuration of the drumlines, and definition of target species,” she said.

Warren-Blackwood MLA Terry Redman said the past 12 months showed Mr Kelly “was dragged kicking and screaming to finally support the smart drumline trial”.

Mr Redman said a NSW visit convinced him the full trial was the best non-lethal choice available to the Government in the face of increased shark attacks.

“I remain hopeful the new Minister will have a greater level of engagement with the general public,” he said.

“A comprehensive shark mitigation policy needs to include helicopter patrols, smart drum lines, subsidized shark shields, increased tagging of sharks, and research into best-practice mitigation techniques.”

The Nationals also wanted satellite receiver buoys expanded into more regional locations along with continued investment in shark tagging activities.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails