Great barrier relief

A SHARK barrier to protect people swimming in City of Wanneroo beaches would be a drawcard for snorkelers, tourism, local business and education, Mayor Tracey Roberts said.

Wanneroo council last week voted to back a feasibility study into installing a barrier for 2016-17 to provide protection to beach users.

�It�s been right throughout the news with regards to shark attacks and you can understand why that creates some angst among people who go to the beach,� Mrs Roberts said.

�People move to live in coastal areas and we�ve got some beautiful beaches along our coastline, and this will provide an opportunity for residents to feel more comfortable and confident when they�re swimming without risk of being attacked.

�This doesn�t trap wildlife and it also acts as a nursery for young fish, for the sponges, anemones, the octopuses. You have barnacles along the barriers and that allows other fish to feed from them.�

Mrs Roberts said that it was a concept she was keen for the City to explore further, with staff to now consult other local authorities and shark barrier companies for a report to be presented to the council in December.

Her motion on notice said an Eco shark barrier trialled at Coogee Beach over the 2013-14 summer had been a success and extended a further three years.

She said members of a social snorkelling group living in Quinns Rocks, Mindarie, Yanchep, Two Rocks and the City of Joondalup travelled there for the facilities, with young children learning to snorkel and taking photos of marine life without fear of being attacked by larger species.

At last Tuesday�s council meeting, Eco Shark Barrier managing director Craig Moss, of Kingsley, said he�d had only positive feedback about the Coogee venture.

�I�ve seen school buses come and go from Coogee Beach from all over the place, from as far away as Kalamunda, to go swimming there instead of going to the pool, as well as the swimming vacation lady who said last year they had around 50-100 kids; this time they�ve got 200-300 kids,� Mr Moss said.

�So it�s definitely given people peace of mind and comfort, and it could well and truly be put into any beach up here.�

The barrier, produced in Belmont, is made out of strong, flexible nylon that Mr Moss said could be bent and would not break.

�It can withstand pretty much any conditions thrown at it,� he said.

�If you had a barrier around 200m long at about 5m deep that�s about $200,000 and the barrier will last 10 years,� Mr Moss said.

�The whole idea of this invention was so you can put it out into the ocean without trapping or harming marine life as well as keeping people safe and comfortable to go swimming day and night, any time of the year.�

Cr Russell Driver said any initiative that made the City�s beaches safer was a good step forward and Cr Dot Newton said it would encourage more families into the water.

Cr Denis Hayden said it was a good alternative to the �needless� killing of sharks.

�Unfortunately with human beings our attitude is if something gets in our way let�s kill it,� he said.

�I�m so happy to see an alternative where we�re not going to kill something for a change but put up a barrier to prevent it from coming in and causing harm.�

Factors such as environmental licences, approvals and costs as well as public interest will be considered by the council before a decision could be made.