Installation had been set for September following council approval for the trial in July, but the project had been held up by the Department of Lands, which were not keen on being rushed to give the green light for a product that was untested.
But it was all green last Thursday morning with workers at Coogee Beach at 7am to start work on getting the barrier up and running by this Friday.
With no serious or fatal shark attacks at Coogee since records commenced in the 1800s, it is unlikely the trial will provide any real evidence the barrier would be effective against any such attacks.
But managing director Edward Khoury said there were still many markers of success. ‘Success for us would be that the community find this device useful and comfortable, and feel safe using it,’ he said.
‘While there haven’t been any fatal shark attacks, there’s always that chance there will be a first time. It’s going to be a large space so we will be monitoring the barrier daily and checking for any impacts caused by the structure.’
Mr Khoury queried why the product hadn’t been considered by the State Government.
‘What I would like is for the State Government to come to us at the end of the trial and tell us if they think it is a success. We don’t know why they aren’t looking at our product,’ he said.
‘This is a real solution, it’s not placing baiting barrels and asking people to shoot sharks.’
Greens South Metro MLC Lynn McLaren was keen to see the outcomes of the trial, including an analysis of any unintended impacts on the marine environment.
‘I welcome this trial, as consideration of the use of shark proof enclosures was recommended by an independent study conducted for the WA Fisheries Department by Bond University last year into the best shark hazard mitigation strategy for WA,’ she said.