Local surfers have banded together in an effort to up-skill the community in water safety and first aid following the fatal shark attack at Kelp Beds Beach.
Mitch Capelli said he started the Esperance Ocean Safety and Support Group to provide the safest ocean environment possible for the community.
“We aim to engage local ocean users, implement the latest technology and educate first aid procedures,” he said.
“By doing this, we will have created the safest ocean environment possible for both humans and sharks living as one in an ever growing world.
“We began by holding a free first aid session at the Esperance Goldfields Surf Life Saving Club on Wednesday night (May 18), where we had a strong turn out of 50 concerned teenagers, adolescents and parents.”
Dr Paul Ricciardo, Sean Hazelden and Dave Macmahon ran the the session which focused on water related incidents such as drownings, shark attacks and other specific injuries.
The 24-year-old said he had not been back to Kelp Beds since the tragic death of 17-year-old Laeticia Brouwer.
“It’s obviously been an issue for a number of years,” he said.
“This was the last straw. It’s quite scary actually.”
Mr Capelli said he had been surfing regularly for the past 12 years and was in the water most days.
“As a school teacher myself I have witnessed the exponential growth in parents refusing to let their children enter the water,” he said.
“What are we instilling in the next generation of this country? To live in fear of our ocean?
“Esperance has a large tourism base surrounding our beautiful beaches.
“We believe if nothing is acted upon in the near future potentially this will be lost, along with more lives.”
WA Department of Fisheries shark response unit manager Lisa Clack also attended the night as part of her visit during to gather feedback on shortlisted beaches to potentially receive new shark monitoring buoys.
Mr Capelli said the group looked forward to developing these strategies in conjunction with Fisheries and Surf Life Saving WA.
“We strongly believe that with the collaboration of commercial fishermen and divers is the key to creating a safe and sustainable ocean environment for the future,” he said.
Visit the Esperance Ocean Safety and Support Facebook page for more information.