Rick Wilson calls on Esperance community to sign petition for SMART drumlines

O'Connor MP Rick Wilson and Esperance Ocean Safety and Support founder Mitchell Capelli. Photo: Supplied.
O'Connor MP Rick Wilson and Esperance Ocean Safety and Support founder Mitchell Capelli. Photo: Supplied.

O’Connor MP Rick Wilson has launched a petition in Esperance aimed at lobbying the state government to introduce SMART drumlines.

Mr Wilson said he had put the case to Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly that Esperance needed to be included in these measures after a series of shark attacks.

“In February 2015, Sean Pollard lost his left arm and his right hand to a shark at Kelp Beds, near Esperance, while in April 2018, 17-year-old Laeticia Brouwer, died after being attacked by a shark at the same location,” he said.

Mr Wilson said in August, 2017 he participated in the Esperance Ocean Safety Forum, organised by local surfer Mitch Capelli.

“Mitch told me that the main topic on the agenda was the ‘countdown to October’, an especially dangerous month to be in Esperance waters due to frequent shark attacks over the past few years,” he said.

Mr Wilson said introducing SMART drumlines would protect ocean users without harming marine life. “On average, 10 SMART drumlines could cover 15 kilometres of coast at a cost between $290,000 and $400,000,” he said.

“SMART drumlines are not designed to kill sharks, their aim is to protect human life and along with the SharkSmart app would be a game changer for the Esperance community.”

Mr Wilson urged people in Esperance to visit his office to sign the petition. 

Mr Kelly said there had been no scientific assessment of the effectiveness of the NSW drumline program and the NSW Government had withheld the data it collected which showed what happened to sharks they caught then released.

“Mr Wilson’s costing are not consistent with the costings done either by the NSW Government or by WA Fisheries,” he said. “The proposal put forward by Minister Frydenberg did not even include drumlines off Esperance.”

Mr Kelly said the government had introduced measures to protect the Esperance coast. “We extended the Shark Monitoring Network to Esperance in 2017,” he said.

“Fisheries staff successfully tagged 16 sharks off the Esperance coast over a period of 25 days in November and December 2017 and February 2018.”

Mr Kelly said the government also offered rebates on personal shark deterrent devices, which protected surfers and divers. 

“Since coming into government we have also provided more than $6 million in funding for Surf Life Saving WA, introduced drones into Surf Life Saving patrols and allocated funding for Beach Emergency Numbers signs,” he said.