WA to conduct drum line trial off Gracetown

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

The West Australian Government has bowed to public pressure and will introduce a trial of so-called SMART drum lines to try to reduce the number of shark attacks along its coastline.

The twelve-month trial will be rolled out off Gracetown in the state's South West, where two non-fatal shark attacks took place earlier this year, and the results and will be evaluated by WA's chief scientist Peter Klinken.

SMART (Shark Management Alert in Real Time) drum lines involve the use of a baited hook but instead of killing the sharks, the animals are tagged and released offshore.

Until now, the WA Government has resisted the technology and has supported personal shark deterrents.

SMART drum lines send an alert when a shark is caught on a baited hook

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly made clear that the trial was completely different to the drum lines introduced by the Barnett government in 2014 that sparked a protest by thousands of people at Cottesloe beach.

"It's a non-lethal program, it's a catch, tag, relocate and release program," Mr Kelly said.

"It's certainly not intended to kill sharks. I don't think the public want us to go down that path.

"I hope that the trial shows that these devices actually do work and they actually makes our beaches safer … we want it to be based on evidence, not just opinion."

The announcement of the trial follows months of campaigning by surfers including Rick Gerring, whose brother Ben was killed by a shark off Mandurah south of Perth in 2016.

Ben Gerring died in hospital after he was mauled by a shark while surfing off Mandurah

Mr Gerring welcomed the news of the SMART drum line trial, saying Gracetown was the best location for it.

"I think it's fantastic news that one, we're going to trial our own drum lines to get some research, and two, being in that area which is a high-risk area," Mr Gerring said.

"They've been used on the Queensland and New South Wales coasts for many years now.

"Their incident rates have declined, but from what I know and what I've been told, there is still more information that we need.

"That's why I'm grateful that the West Australian Government has taken it on board to do our own trial."

No silver bullet, victim's brother says

Mr Gerring said he would like to see the drum lines rolled out at strategic locations along the WA coast.

Rick Gerring thinks even more can be done to reduce the risk of shark attacks. (ABC News: Glyn Jones)

"Further down south, along the Mandurah coastline, Esperance and even out through Rottnest," he said.

"Areas that are not patrolled, I think the [drum lines] would be a bigger asset in those sorts of areas.

"One thing with shark mitigation, it's a very hard thing to do, it's not easy, and I understand that we need to put our money in the best possible areas to reduce our risk the most.

"There's not one control measure that is going to fix our issue, it's numerous different ones. The personal deterrents, helicopter services, drones, all these things add to the overall strategy.

"And as long as we are continuing to improve the strategy … I just see that as us doing the right thing by the people."

The Government said final costs and details for the program would be announced in the coming weeks.

© Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Tuesday, 14 Aug 2018 at 2:57pm

Well its about time the WA gov did 'something' cause its better than doing sweet FA.


Dave Drinkwater's picture
Dave Drinkwater's picture
Dave Drinkwater commented Tuesday, 14 Aug 2018 at 3:30pm

Good move, The Drum lines work. Although not 100% its better then nothing...I believe most of the time Whites are scavenging and if they can get an easy feed they will head towards it..They take the bait and become stressed out and maybe avoid that path next year, a little early to call need more research. Where I live in Ballina it seems to be working great, fingers crossed this will be one of many mitigation strategies to avoid human casualties.

I focus's picture
I focus's picture
I focus commented Tuesday, 14 Aug 2018 at 8:50pm

Anyone know if the NSW is gathering useful data on their program?

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Wednesday, 15 Aug 2018 at 2:48am

I focus your in luck ...Your copy awaits you in the Swellnet News stand.
Swellnet essentially ran what is now the perfect lead into this story on Sat,4 August 2018.
I recommend to read them in order...Explains the timing and cross reference.
Default Part 1 contains missing NSW Data + timely push behind W.A. Drum Lines.

If any are keen on this, simply scroll down Swellnet News Stand to a few weeks back.
Title: [Sydney shark nets set to stay despite drumline success] by Bruce Mackenzie ABC
Believe me! You'll find what you need...Lots of News! Well covered by Swellnet.

I focus's picture
I focus's picture
I focus commented Wednesday, 15 Aug 2018 at 4:41pm

Thanks TBB, I ask as the WA Gov keeps saying NSW's won't share the data that confirms the DL success or something along those lines there is couple of numbers in that story but surely there are more facts than just that?

I wonder if this is because someone is cooking the books on bycatch etc.

The WA DL trial will be accessed by the WA's chief scientist Peter Klinken which makes sense even if it means there is some control to make sure the data recorded has some quality to it rather than opinionated BS plus the added benefit of getting more info on the secret lives of GWS.

At least it will STFU the Libs trying to wedge WA labor over the issue.

radiationrules's picture
radiationrules's picture
radiationrules commented Wednesday, 15 Aug 2018 at 12:13pm

Finally science overcomes the shrill screams from the bleachers; as a result we fund the opportunity to test-and-roll & gather information, to see what we can learn from these ancient sea creatures without killing them. It's just the beginning.

quokka's picture
quokka's picture
quokka commented Friday, 17 Aug 2018 at 12:15am

Well fuck me the muppets finally did something, about time. Why it took old mate so long to see reason is beyond me. Nothing has changed since they said not until we get the data...well the data hasn’t come so why the change of heart? Now he decides to act and make himself out to be the big man, you’re a flog Kelly.
Let’s hope it’s a success hey Mikey...

mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207 commented Friday, 17 Aug 2018 at 10:04am

Fuck me the gerbils back!
You do realise they are only doing it so they can try and keep the all important Margs Pro in the south west and try to placate the brazilian social media storm?
Time will tell and it will be very interesting to watch but it still doesn't cover your perthy beaches does it?

quokka's picture
quokka's picture
quokka commented Sunday, 19 Aug 2018 at 11:59pm

Brings a tear to my eye, sounds like you missed me. I won’t leave it so long next time.
Drums are being put where the majority of attacks happened, not rocket science. Doesn’t cover the reefs you reckon you surf either so all good hey. You can still paddle around beating your chest without worry.

soggydog's picture
soggydog's picture
soggydog commented Monday, 20 Aug 2018 at 12:27pm

I was surfing Lennox last week and watched a white cruise the edge of the bank, most people didn’t see it. They’ve got drum lines. So if you think a drum line automatically makes surfspots safe from shark encounters I’d re-asses your position, it’s a placebo.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Monday, 20 Aug 2018 at 2:36pm

they love cruising up the side of the sand bank eh.

I think the drums do catch them and the receivers do let you know when there are heaps around,.......so I think it's something and something is better than nothing.

soggydog's picture
soggydog's picture
soggydog commented Monday, 20 Aug 2018 at 3:46pm

It was a good size FR, I think they’ll cover the high volume tourist areas of the west coast but I doubt they’ll cover other more remote areas of the south coast where there have been fatalities, or the north west.
Covering the west coast could be, as suggested above, because of the state governments underwriting of the MR pro and possibly because of the negative effects shark publicity could have on tourism.
They already have a shark watch fb page for public reporting and a helicopter that flies up and down the coast. The hysteria around the time of the MR pro is crazy given the situation that was present in regard to the seasonal salmon run and pilot whale carcasses.

monk's picture
monk's picture
monk commented Monday, 20 Aug 2018 at 3:11pm

I have been watching this closely, and am glad to see they have implemented this program. Will be watching the data eagerly. Wonder where they will put them - i.e. in the Bay or only behind the bay or both - all the way to Ellensbrook? I am still pissed off with how long it took and with their lack of action getting whale carcasses of beaches (i think Bears is still officially "Closed"), but i am willing to concede one point to the WA govt: at least they are using evidence-based techniques - i.e. the rebates on the deterrants and now the drumlines on the back of the NSW success - this is a lot better than the knee-jerk reaction and subsequent disaster of a program from the previous Government. I cant work out why drumlines actually work, it doesnt make any real sense to me - would have thought a fish would care about being caught and towed a few hundred metres, and would continue back to its prvious habitat without too many issues, but the data seems to be showing a success in NSW (unless it is pure coincidence). Eitherway, i will feel better surfing once they are in place. Now time to review the science on the endangered status of the GWS - i think this is well overdue...

quokka's picture
quokka's picture
quokka commented Monday, 20 Aug 2018 at 3:42pm

SDL's are definitely not a safety net for surfers but the major benefit from the program will be the tagging, because as you say @monk there's notnhing stopping them from returning other than learned beahvior. Yes the Govt then needs to implement a network of receivers on the SW coast but at least it's a start and once there are tagged sharks out there you would think it's a natural progression for the receivers to be added to the network.
I don't get why the WA govt held out for so long and then proceeded without the evidence they were falling back on for not implementing. I suppose they are pollies and pollies do backflips all the time...who cares, as you say @freeride it's something and that IS better than nothing.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Monday, 20 Aug 2018 at 4:51pm

Before the drums during 2015/16 the juvey/sub-adult whites were cruising the surf line or even inshore gutters, clear water sunshine whatever. Cruising in fcuking 3ft of water.
Once they get caught on the drums it seems to make them more cautious about cruising that very shallow surf zone.
Which means they are much less dangerous to surfers.

Whether that effect lasts or is merely short term .......well time will tell.

At the least drums give real time data about the relative abundance of whites and their whereabouts.

It doesn't bother me too much but if there is a spike and I know there are heaps around I'll keep my kids out of the water or take them to Byron for safety in numbers.

Eugene Green's picture
Eugene Green's picture
Eugene Green commented Monday, 20 Aug 2018 at 9:25pm

Those guys down in South Oz are still training GW to associate humans with food and making a tidy profit with cage diving. Those same sharks travel long distances east and west. No one ever talks about this but I reckon it’s a big factor.
It was nice to get a few uncrowded sessions in around the SW when the shark hysteria was going on. Spose we’ll be back to the normal shit fight this summer/autumn.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Tuesday, 21 Aug 2018 at 8:44am

hahahah shitt yes.

was surfing the dawny with the bloke here who has the contract for the smart drums.

pretty good gig for a surfer.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Tuesday, 21 Aug 2018 at 9:52am

Not all one way with the Sharky Tech...
Whale watchers know W.A. have been trialing Smart Satellite Buoys on Whales.
Feds tipped in $73,000
Cray Fishermen put in $20,000 return deposit for that lost Cray in the net.
Whales now lugging any fishing gear become a default Great White PeakhourTimetable.

This tech is being considered by New Zealand.
Also recently deployed (Trialed) by GC Seaworld who say it's a real game changer.
3 east coast Whales are currently not tracked hauling fishing gear.(Beware of Shark convoy)
Should whalewatchers spot them...Contact 131555

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