MP calls for shark action

Taelor Pelusey and Angela PownallBusselton Dunsborough Times

Liberal MLA Libby Mettam says Labor needs to take immediate action to prevent further shark attacks as WA comes to grips with its 15th fatality in less than two decades.

The Member for Vasse told the Times out of 25 shark fatalities in the past 100 years, 15 had been since 2000.

“This is why, not only as the State MP for an electorate that includes some of Australia’s best surfing and diving locations, but as a mother of two teens who are part of the surfing community, I am concerned over the reluctance of the McGowan Government to address this important issue,” she said.

“We really need to address the cause, which is an imbalance in the ocean.”

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The debate on how to protect beach-goers from shark attacks was reignited this week by the death of 17-year-old Laeticia Brouwer in Esperance.

Opinions on how the State Government can enact change remain split in the political sphere and surfing community.

Yallingup Boardriders Club president Garth Mullumby said the Yallingup community was divided. “People here have the option of swimming in Yallingup lagoon or Old Dunsborough netted area,” he said.

“All surfers know the risk of sharks when they enter the water, as well as the risk of injury or death from drowning or contacting over the reef.”

Surfing WA boss Mark Lane said the Government should be looking to the Eastern States for “long-term working examples” in keeping swimmers and surfers safe, while Surf Life Saving WA manager Chris Peck said helicopter and beach patrols were effective but left surfers and divers exposed.

The previous government outlined a shark mitigation strategy in 2008 which included beach enclosures at Busselton and Dunsborough as well as Statewide monitoring networks, the Sharksmart tagging system, extended helicopter patrols and a controversial drum line policy.

Labor, a long-time opponent of drum lines, has ruled out their use and instead plans to focus on individual deterrent devices.

The party is yet to unveil the plan’s finer details.

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