Shark barrier: tests claim

The Department of Science wants tests on a new shark barrier.
The Department of Science wants tests on a new shark barrier.

‘The Department of Science gave us indications of what to do and where to go next, and we were told to go to the University of WA, probably the Oceans Institute,’ Eco Shark barrier inventor Craig Moss said, after meeting department staff last week.

The department’s suggestion compares with Premier Colin Barnett telling Parliament in May that there was no money for Cockburn Council to use the barrier at Coogee Beach for another three years.

Mr Moss proposes a Cottesloe Beach barrier and said he met with department staff to change perceptions his barrier of 2.1m plastic sections under floats could not cope with exposed coasts, and he found they were ‘quite interested’. However, a Department of Premier and Cabinet spokeswoman later said the university had not been instructed to investigate the barrier, trialled successfully at Coogee Beach last summer, and a different shark enclosure in Dunsborough was being evaluated by the Government.

In Canberra, UWA marine scientist Jessica Meeuwig led scientists, the Surfrider Foundation and WA Greens Senator Rachel Siewert briefing Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt on non-lethal shark control last week.

Mr Hunt will make the final decision on the State Government’s proposed $6 million cull, which could catch up to 30 great whites and 900 tiger sharks if the kill lasting three summers restarts on November 15.

Prof Meeuwig told about 30 Federal MPs, Senators and their advisers that barriers, personal safety devices and South Africa’s Shark Spotters program were being ignored in WA’s Public Environmental Review analysing the cull.

‘The point was made that the current proposal to extend the cull is very expensive, and that investing in technology and research will deliver stronger, long-term outcomes,’ Prof Meeuwig said.

She said there was a ‘real appetite’ among MPs for non-lethal methods, after the cull’s trial that killed about 100 tiger sharks, not linked to an attack since 1925, showed beaches had not been made any safer.