Member for Roe Peter Rundle has called on the state government to assess how the shark debate is affecting the perception of the state as a tourism destination.
The call comes after Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg released a proposal recommending the state government deploy 176 SMART drum lines across 260 kilometres of the state’s coast.
The state government would be expected to bear the cost of the proposal – an estimated $5 million to $7 million for a six month drumline program.
Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly said the proposal had failed to deliver scientific evidence on the effectiveness of the drumlines.
Mr Rundle expressed concern for the safety of beachgoers and the perception of the state as a tourism destination, encouraging the state government to consider the impact of the issue.
“Not only am I concerned about people being attacked but I’m also worried about the perception of WA as a destination,” he said.
“We know that people across the globe associate WA with sharks.
“I think that the Premier, the Fisheries Minister and the Tourism Minister all need to get together and assess how this issue is affecting people and affecting the perception of WA as a tourism destination.
“I think it’s [SMART drumlines] definitely worth a go and it’s being trialled elsewhere so it’s not as though it’s a completely new technology.”
Having met with New South Wales Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair regarding SMART drumline trials in the eastern states, Mr Rundle said he felt it was something worth implementing.
“I’ve spoken with Niall Blair they’re very happy with how those trials are going there and how effective they are,” he said.
“They really feel that they have a real impact and I think their statistics demonstrate that.
“I think it really is something worth trying.”
Acting Tourism Minister Bill Johnston said the shark debate was not impacting on people’s decisions to travel to the state.
“The shark debate is not impacting tourism or people’s decisions to travel to WA,” he said.
“Tourism WA research indicates that the majority of people’s decision to travel are influenced by affordability and accessibility.
“The McGowan Government, through Tourism WA, has a Two-Year Action plan, supported by industry, to drive visitation to WA.
“As a result of our actions, over the past 12 months WA has seen some growth in leisure tourism from key international markets such as China and Malaysia, and domestically within Australia.”
Mr Rundle said he hoped that if the state government considered the proposal, the drumline locations would include Albany and Esperance.
Mr Kelly said including Albany and Esperance in the proposal would cost WA taxpayers at least $20 million a year and said the proposal acknowledged the drumlines did not offer 100 per cent protection to beachgoers, with two attacks having occurred at trial locations.