Government tests shark shields designed for surfers

New figures released in parliament have revealed only 13 people in the 6210 post code, which includes coastal suburbs from Madora Bay to Wannanup, have bought shark shields using the state government’s rebate.

And out of the 650 devices sold across the state by the end of September, only nine were used by surfers prompting fisheries minister Dave Kelly to say the government will test shark shields suitable for surfing.

The shark shield program was an election promise of the McGowan Government, which will pay a $200 rebate on the first 1000 shark deterrent devices sold.

It was part of the government’s plan to prevent shark attacks, but Mr Kelly said the devices covered by the scheme were “best suited” to diving, snorkelling or kayaking and not surfing.

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However, he said the Shark Shield Freedom 7 was still “effective as a deterrent whether it is used by divers or surfers”.

“Fisheries is aware of a number of other devices that are intended to be marketed specifically at surfers that are currently being independently tested,” he said.

“These devices were not tested in the original group done by the University of Western Australia in 2016.

“If these devices are found to be effective they will be considered for inclusion in the subsidy program.”

South West MP Diane Evers said she was concerned not enough young people were taking up the rebate on shark shields.

“I would like know more about why teenagers and young adults, who generally have a high level of participation in ocean sports, aren’t applying in greater numbers for the $200 rebate,” she said.

“One explanation may be that the rebate is only currently approved for purchases of the Shark Shield Freedom 7, which is marketed for use by divers, spear fishers and kayakers, but not for surfing.

“Another reason could be that even with the rebate, the device is too expensive for people on low incomes – in which case, I’d be interested in exploring whether deterrents could be made available on a low-cost hire or borrow basis.”

A review of the shark shield rebate program will take place after the 1000 rebates are taken up.