Animals

Use shark nets – Surf Life Saving WA

KATIE CROSTON

Surf Life Saving WA has backed a State Government proposal to use shark nets at WA beaches, despite concerns it may not withstand rough surf.

The shark net plan was put back in the spotlight after the Environmental Protection Agency recently banned the use of drum lines this summer.

A report by environmental consultancy group Hydrobiology said the trial of a 500-metre shark net at Old Dunsborough Beach earlier this year was a success.

The report – A Review of Dunsborough Beach Enclosed Trial – found shark nets were a relatively cheap and easy-to-maintain option.

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SLSWA chief executive officer Paul Andrew said the organisation would welcome any initiative to make WA beaches safer.

“The net pilot at Dunsborough appeared to work well,” he said.

However Greens MP Lynn MacLaren said photographs and eyewitness accounts showed the nets developed holes.

“This begs the question why the WA government thumbed its nose at using the Eco Shark Barrier.v[It] was tested using private money at Coogee beach and was a huge success,” she said.

A government-commissioned report said nets could be installed at 22 beaches, including Cottesloe, Bunker Bay, Gracetown and Rottnest Island.

But Mr Andrew said he was not sure the nets would withstand Perth’s strong surf.

“It does seem that that type of netting is best suited to non-surf beaches,” he said.

The Hydriobiology report said enclosures had been tested in Hong Kong and could withstand long storms, though a stronger design was likely to be more expensive.

The Greens said the Government should put its “money where its mouth is” and fund genuine protection measures.