The founder of the Esperance Ocean Safety and Support Group has thrown his support behind O’Connor MP Rick Wilson’s petition for SMART drumlines in Esperance.
Group founder Mitchell Capelli said the shark threat would result in a ‘snowballing’ economic loss of tourism revenue in addition to the potential loss of life.
Related story:O’Connor MP starts petition for SMART drumlines
Mr Wilson said the cancellation of the Margaret River Pro surfing competition was an example of the consequences of a lack of action on shark safety.
“The Margaret River Pro, which brings millions of dollars of economic activity to the South West, is at risk of being lost,” he said.
“The debacle where we had international surfers saying ‘we are not going into the water’ has huge ramifications.
“That message went around the world, particularly to the surfing community, that the waters of WA are not safe to surf in.”
Mr Capelli said fears for the safety of WA’s waters would impact all areas of tourism.
“It’s not just the ocean users, you might have one person who surfs and then the girlfriend goes down for the wineries,” he said.
“It’s a snowball effect for sure.”
WA Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly said the shark debate was not impacting tourism or people’s decisions to travel to WA.
“Tourism WA research indicates that the majority of people’s decision to travel are influenced by affordability and accessibility,” he said.
“The McGowan Government, through Tourism WA, has a two-year action plan, supported by industry, to drive visitation to WA, including regional destinations like Esperance.”
Mr Kelly said the state was taking shark hazard mitigation very seriously and had taken steps to improve ocean safety, including along the Esperance coast.
The minister sited the extension of the Shark Monitoring Network to Esperance in 2017 and rebates offered for personal shark deterrent devices.