NSW MP Calls To Adopt WA's Rebate For Personal Shark Deterrents

Kelly Fuller
Swellnet Dispatch

For five years, the Western Australian government has provided a $200 rebate for ocean users who buy select shark deterrent devices. When it was first introduced very few users took up the offer - just over 600 in the first year, only 10 of whom came from the Margaret River, Yallingup, and Dunsborough area.

Yet when the rebate was broadened to include surf specific devices, such as Rpela and Ocean Guardian's FREEDOM+ Surf, the uptake increased and is now approaching 8,000.

With the issue of shark nets back on the agenda, a Sydney MP wants the NSW government to copy WA's lead.

A New South Wales MP is urging the state government to create a personal shark deterrent device rebate scheme and remove shark nets from the state's beaches.

Heathcote MP Lee Evans has used a notice of motion in parliament to call for the adoption of a model similar to the $200 rebate offered in Western Australia.

Mr Evans's seat on the southern fringe of Sydney is set to shift significantly further south in the electoral boundary redistribution into northern Wollongong, where the council is leading a push to remove the nets.

"My issue is that so many creatures are caught up in the nets as a bycatch and great whites swim by with impunity," Mr Evans said. "I am very concerned that we are killing off sea turtles, rays, other sharks that aren't meant to be caught."

The most recent report on the state's shark meshing program found a total of 376 marine animals caught in nets. 51 were target sharks, including 28 white sharks, 12 bull sharks and 11 tiger sharks.

The 325 remaining were non-target animals, including grey nurse sharks, 130 rays, 40 turtles, one dolphin and one humpback whale.

Sea Shepherd Australia released this ray caught in a shark net off Lennox Head, NSW (Sea Shepherd Australia)

Mr Evans urged the government to divert the money it spent on the nets into a rebate scheme for personal deterrent devices.

"Western Australia basically said, 'Right we are not going to net anymore,' and they did a 50/50 split with people who wanted to buy these devices," he said.

In a statement, the WA government said the scheme provided a number of options, including "two scientifically proven device options — the Ocean Guardian FREEDOM+ Surf (bundle) and the Ocean Guardian FREEDOM7".

"The scheme was introduced in May 2017 for the Ocean Guardian Freedom7 (dive product), the Ocean Guardian FREEDOM+ Surf (Bundle) was added the following year in 2018," the statement said. "In March this year a third option was added, the WA manufactured Rpela v2 surf device.

"As of 12 October, 7,844 rebates have been claimed to purchase a device."

Tom Carroll with the Ocean Guardian FREEDOM+ Surf attached to his board (Ocean Guardian)

'Bite mitigation' and 'personal devices'

The NSW government made its response to the Cardno report it commissioned into shark protection public in August. It includes support for recommendations to fund research into personal protection devices.

"The shark program continues to undertake, or supports, further research and monitoring (ie data gathering, analysis and reporting) of current area-based bite mitigation systems and trialling of emerging area-based bite mitigation systems and personal devices," the government said.

Ocean Guardian chief executive Lindsay Lyon met with Lee Evans, Terrigal MP Adam Crouch, and Environment Minister James Griffith in NSW parliament last week. Primary Industries Minister Dugald Saunders was unable to meet with Mr Lyon.

"What I am trying to do is educate them," Mr Lyon said. "To say to them, if you are under pressure to remove shark nets, drum lines, to remove the bycatch, the single biggest impact you can have is to offer personal protection to those most at risk, which is surfers and divers."

Mr Lyons said the Ocean Guardian device created a powerful electric field that caused the receptors in a shark's snout to spasm and turn it away. He said the devices had been tested by Flinders University using grant money from the NSW government.

Mr Lyons said he believed the next step for Australia was the development of a product standard "the same as we have for bicycle helmets and life jackets".

"We are working on that," he said. "It would give consumers and government confidence and give the ACCC something to work with."

Australian Marine Conservation Society's Leonardo Guida, who opposed the use of shark nets, said the group would support evidence-based, non-lethal approaches to modernising beach safety.

"It is crucial that consumers are made aware and informed of products that are independently and scientifically tested for their efficacy at deterring sharks," Dr Guida said. "Beach users choosing products that have not been independently and scientifically tested may unwittingly take risks they otherwise wouldn't."

'Fairly happy' with existing options

Mr Saunders said he was aware of the technology, but said Mr Lee had not contacted him with the request.

"I'm not prepared to say we would definitely back in a rebate," Mr Saunders said. "I think there are some more discussions to be had, but we have helped through DPI incentives and research on the devices."

Mr Saunders indicated he was happy to "look at" what the WA government had done, but said NSW's $85-million investment in shark mitigation over the next five years was "world-leading". "At the moment I am fairly happy with the options we have," he said.

Mr Saunders said in addition to the 51 beaches with shark nets, the government was also using more than 300 drum lines, 37 shark listening stations, drones and the SharkSmart app. He said he wanted councils with shark nets to ask beachgoers if they want the nets removed.

"Not just their communities — all beach users," Mr Saunders said.

"You can capture that digitally or with a clipboard, if you are doing that — that is a fair dinkum survey of community want.

"Just having councillors make a decision is pretty simplistic."

© Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


Le_Reynard's picture
Le_Reynard's picture
Le_Reynard Monday, 24 Oct 2022 at 3:12pm

None of the existing 'personal devices' claim to deter Great White Sharks, the main culprit in lethal attacks. Unless I'm mistaken. I know they'd like a politically expedient solution for all parties, but their priority should be, legally and ethically, to their constituents safety.

SurferSam's picture
SurferSam's picture
SurferSam Monday, 24 Oct 2022 at 3:36pm

You are mistaken
Both shark shield and now rpela have studies done that show risk is reduced even with whites

mike oxhard's picture
mike oxhard's picture
mike oxhard Monday, 24 Oct 2022 at 6:26pm

mimicry (like shark eyes stickers) definitely works, if big predators think they are being watched they wont hit

bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird Monday, 24 Oct 2022 at 10:48pm

Perhaps we can train some of the Orcas to protect us....

Shaun Hanson's picture
Shaun Hanson's picture
Shaun Hanson Monday, 24 Oct 2022 at 3:22pm

Shark listening devices im sure there great info for researchers but as far attack preventing i cant see any benefit . Big fat waste of money and time but makes them public servents look shiny ..Governments are always carrying on about how good Australia is at high tech smart eco freindly inventions but dont put there hand up to help small buisnesses move forward ...Come on you mouthy dick swingin politicians cough up with the rebate more poeple might use these devices which in turn creates more revenue so they can test and develop as no funding or any help for that matter has been given just normal government lip service (WELL DONE WA FOR THE REBATE )..I know Dave at RPELA needs all the help he can get he is a pasionate surfer and ocean lover has a great product ...

brownie48's picture
brownie48's picture
brownie48 Monday, 24 Oct 2022 at 4:42pm

Well thats funny as I wrote to the NSW Government earlier this year asking them to do this and basically got a get stuffed letter from Dugald Saunders who is the Minister for Agriculture and Western New South Wales

I did a lot of research and found the Rpela devices to be the best in my opinion as they are transferable between boards as long as you have the base unit in your board.

And they are made in WA by a good human and great board builder named Dave Smith and Katana Surfboards

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Monday, 24 Oct 2022 at 4:52pm

SharkShield / Ocean Guardian also Transferable between Boards

brownie48's picture
brownie48's picture
brownie48 Monday, 24 Oct 2022 at 4:54pm

Not transferable when I checked a couple of years ago

When I looked into it you had to put this sticker across your board and if the sticker got damaged or cut then the device wouldn't work cause it would cut the current and then you had to use their tail pad with it built in which I didnt like either

This may have changed but when I looked into it I found the Rpela much more versatile and easier to manage

mpeachy's picture
mpeachy's picture
mpeachy Monday, 24 Oct 2022 at 6:02pm

The attacks seem to have subsided for a while on the east coast. Imagine there's still some very nervous surfers on the mid and north coasts though

bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird Monday, 24 Oct 2022 at 7:08pm

Magnets appear to be effective at deterring some sensitive sharks in some species based on scientific studies;

Nothing is 100% certain in science or in predicting the human impulse.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Monday, 24 Oct 2022 at 7:27pm

Fark orf with your Magnet Bullshit !
2 mins onwards

bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird Monday, 24 Oct 2022 at 10:07pm

from udo reference above
"Okay, so I’m not a shark expert, nor am I a physicist or an engineer. For this reason, I’m going to tread a little lightly on the examination of whether the idea is plausible and focus on whether they have demonstrated that the things work...."
Confusion say 'limited tools & greasy hands...make slow progress'

bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird Monday, 24 Oct 2022 at 10:14pm
bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird Tuesday, 25 Oct 2022 at 9:25pm

News flash ...30/12/2016
Florida teen with golf cart gets bitten by small reef shark on arm....
Florida teen bitten on leg while clamming, etc
Pattern may emerge....
Florida has 9x US average shark attacks (total 896) in <100 yrs (since 1837)

lost's picture
lost's picture
lost Tuesday, 25 Oct 2022 at 12:13pm

Sharkbanz are a complete fraud. As are those who accept money to promote them - hello Santa (BL).

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Tuesday, 25 Oct 2022 at 12:26pm

Had forgotten about that.

BL recently threw shade on Gerry Lopez for licensing his name to Costco to manufacture softboards. I don't disagree with those comments, but that recollection casts a new light on them - i.e what celebrity hasn't exchanged integrity for dollars?

lost's picture
lost's picture
lost Tuesday, 25 Oct 2022 at 12:34pm

I call Santa out of this on social a while ago and his response it’s his right to make money however he wants and it’s none of my business who he gets paid by. Which was odd. Didn’t want to argue the effectiveness….

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Tuesday, 25 Oct 2022 at 12:29pm

lost's picture
lost's picture
lost Tuesday, 25 Oct 2022 at 12:36pm

Yep plenty do it but pretty irresponsible especially when lives are at risk.

Anyone remember the balance bands all the afl players got suckered into.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Tuesday, 25 Oct 2022 at 1:12pm

Off Topic ...but the amount of Aussies Shapers that Despise Boards made offshore...
Asian Popout Shit...
Buy Australian support your Local Shaper was always there Motto....
Pfft They Soon Sign up to make a Model or Three Offshore for easy Royalty $$
Even though they have Flourishing Business here in Aust
Another Great Oz Shaper just joined the Popout Club with 3 Models.

I focus's picture
I focus's picture
I focus Thursday, 27 Oct 2022 at 12:00pm

Yep do the odd custom but stock the shelves with imports....

smokeydogg's picture
smokeydogg's picture
smokeydogg Monday, 24 Oct 2022 at 7:33pm

I've talked to quite a few spearos and scuba crew who are certain their shark shield had success with whites, one guy even said he had a 3-4mtr white come at him with its mouth wide open at speed (he had just speared a salmon) and once the shark was within 2 mtrs it veered of as if it had been hit with a bat.

theblacksheep's picture
theblacksheep's picture
theblacksheep Monday, 24 Oct 2022 at 7:45pm

Listening stations, drones and an app!!
These politicians are too funny

Maybe they can subsidise my next iPhone

peabo's picture
peabo's picture
peabo Monday, 24 Oct 2022 at 9:02pm

Anyone make these things for bodyboards? We look like fucken turtles.

bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird Monday, 24 Oct 2022 at 9:21pm

if your splashing whitewater like a wounded fish... you may be a "shark biscuit"
refer to experienced surfer "greenoughs journal"

bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird Monday, 24 Oct 2022 at 9:53pm
Coaster's picture
Coaster's picture
Coaster Monday, 24 Oct 2022 at 10:05pm

I’ve wondered whether the strong electro-magnetic field from a shark repellent device located right under your chest might have an adverse effect on your heart after long periods of exposure.


bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird Monday, 24 Oct 2022 at 10:24pm

"No electrical device manufacturer can remove all of the risk of interfering with an EMD, particularly devices that generate or transmit energy like microwaves, mobile phones, power generators, transformers, power tools, along with marine equipment such as radars, EBIRB's, PLB's, fish finders and of course electrical shark deterrents. "

"WARNING: A large pulsing current is emitted from the Ocean Guardian's antenna to produce the protective electric field. Anyone with any electronic medical device (EMD) or implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) such as a pacemaker, who is pregnant, or has a health condition which could be affected by the electric field, should not use the device. Some examples of health conditions include heart disease, a history of heart problems, peripheral vascular disease, stroke, a history of fainting or epilepsy, or lung disease. Users unintentionally being in close proximity, or in contact with the antenna, may possibly suffer muscle spasms in varying degrees; we recommend that users may need to make adjustments to limit contact in these situations. "

back beach's picture
back beach's picture
back beach Tuesday, 25 Oct 2022 at 8:19am

I’m a serial dawn patroller on nnsw coast and spearo when it’s clean enough. Peace of mind is worth the price of admission alone especially with our overcast conditions. Downside is my mates wanna hang close by so bring on the subsidy. Gotta have independent science based caveat

JB1's picture
JB1's picture
JB1 Tuesday, 25 Oct 2022 at 3:58pm

Apprecite this MPs call for subsidies... repect his aim of protecting surfers, and reducing the horrific bycatch of anything that strays into these nets.

bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird Tuesday, 25 Oct 2022 at 9:41pm

Subsidise costs to the old & frail due to ... climate change; droughts, bushfires, storms, floods & Covid19 (SARS), ... ect

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher Wednesday, 26 Oct 2022 at 1:36am

Marathon swimmers seem to deal with sharks more often than most...
Many are breaking free of the Cages to scoop 'unassisted records' to get a jump on the pack.
Some Sharky Nations Mandate Swim Cages other Club Med Resorts Ban them & Wot Sharks?
Naturally more are attracted to Shark Deterrents & many will & have turned to Shark Shield devices.

Start off with yer Typical cash for comment Shark Shield Promo :
"The Shark Shield worked so well we never had to inform our Swimmer of sharks until after the swim!"
Unsure if this is a bad joke or if we walked in on some perfect crime if not for the 2 Lazy Tiger Sharks?
Headline is a scream...{ Meredith Novak Shatters Swim Record with 2 Tiger Sharks tailing her! } OMG!

But it's not as simple as that...it's hard to convey but that's why tbb is sharing these varied deterrents.
tbb is not saying these are indicative...reckon there'd be equally more stories just as varied again.
We're talking about Swim Teams taking on sharky oceans with whatever...so strap in for a wild ride!

Marathon Swimmer Jennifer Figge : "Have used at least 4 different Shark Shield models since 1998.
For my Pacific Xing ( The Guys in Australia with Shark Shield ) Recommended I have two!"
Jennifer : "They didn't think the one on me was enough protection!"

(Sounds very reassuring!)
You all heard the Shark Shield Boss Man...better charge up another one, just to be safe!
Light up a Rainbow Glow on the Horizon.

The crew powered up her ( Feed/ Juice) Lifeline for Techno Beat assist...currently legal! My brain hurts!

Keep ya hummin' along but don't work so well at night...
see Glow in the dark Adrian...that's a shocking story!

'First Spanish' Channel Swimmer (Shark Shield) Jorge Villanueva was approached by Tiger Sharks.
One got "Really Close" so he shook his Shark Shield at it & it swam away.
Jorge's Shake'n'Bake pet Tiger Shark Expo has the crew shakin' on the upper decks!

Can always go Commando...Ranie Pearce said her sea sickness trail may have attracted a Tiger Shark.
Punter made a fair point of " Ranie's 10 Tonne of Illegal Lotions" gonna kill off the Island Reefs!
Must be some Sun Screen Lotion Exemptions for Record Attempts?

[2:15] Pilots Port side resembles a Shark Shield line but Kayaks / Vessel may or not be fitted with one.
End of Vid Credits #1 #2 Kayaks?
Mostly coz Ranie is cool with Sharks...can see most would be freaking out more than her cool manner.


Just days after Sharky swim another Swimmer has a crack at the Molokai Channel (4 hrs in the dark)
After seeing the Jaws Vid...Adrian Sarchet trailed a Shark Shield (Above) from his Glow Stick Kayak...
2nd hour into the swim "Zap" Shark Shield lit up his teeth & fried his brain...wishing to retire!
Support crew weren't havin' it...pumped more drugs into him & said to get on with it ya big sook!
Just got worse by the minute it did!

Chloe McCardel team uses Shark Shields.
But also dim lights at night to avoid attracting fish that attract Sharks.
They're also impartial to hurling tonnes of Capt Goodvibe's Shark Bombs (Huh!)

Thought tbb just said Goodvibes / Shark Bombs...(Wot!) Oh Yeah...Da Bombs!
Fleet of Flanking Kayakers drop Shark Bombs at regular intervals...nuthin' suss!
Shark Bombs are packed with Synthetic Rotting Shark Flesh (Adds flavour to the Shark Shield Stew)

Plan worked fine apart from Chloe's 2nd degree full body burns & 3 days recovery in hospital.
She's had worse...All in a days work she says!

That's the dirty laundry on swimming with Shark Shields...tbb won't be going back in the ocean just yet!
Just saying there are even weirder & often mandated deterrents for Ocean swim comps.
Some comps insist all swimmers must pay for & wear sponsors shark bands or stay at home.

bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird Thursday, 27 Oct 2022 at 9:31pm

We have a new shark satellite 'listening' station & three 'bait' bouys just offshore of where many surf.
The great whites are passing by regularly heading south in Sept-Oct; (as are the whales)

Choosing to follow practical shark avoidance advice (while surfing/ swimming / diving) from NSW fisheries, is probably more worthwhile than any repellent magnet device....
Teach a kid or teen basic ocean knowledge, bogans may learn Darwin's theory of evolution the hard way...

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Thursday, 27 Oct 2022 at 9:37pm

Some Great Whites head South.