Ministerial Media Statement
Hon Liza Harvey MLA
Minister for Police and Road Safety
Saturday, 2 February 2013
Govt’s shark strategy making community safer
- SW helicopter patrols extended to March long weekend and Easter
Latest shark sightings figures released
Helicopter shark patrols will be extended in the South-West during the March long weekend and the Easter break, the State Government announced today.
Police Minister Liza Harvey said the announcement came as new figures were released showing more than 240 sharks had been sighted so far this season.
Mrs Harvey said 246 sharks had been sighted by the two Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA) helicopters as at the end of January, compared to 247 by the end of March 2012.
There had been 22 Great White shark sightings so far this season, compared to three by the end of the 2011-12 season.
“It has been a busy season so far with shark sightings and SLSWA has been working hard to keep our beaches safe,” the Minister said.
Mrs Harvey said after discussions with SLSWA, the South-West patrols – which would end their regular shifts on February 3 – would be extended to operate at the March long weekend and the Easter break.
“This is great news for beachgoers in the South-West as the patrols help to keep them safe and up-to-date with information about shark sightings,” she said.
The Minister said the extended patrols were part of the Government’s shark mitigation strategy, which had so far received more than $20million in funding.
“The Government acknowledges shark mitigation is a complex issue, and has responded with a broad range of strategies, including increased patrols, tagging, practical research, jet skis and community awareness,” she said.
Part of that funding has also gone towards the development of a shark app, which is designed to inform beachgoers about the latest shark sightings and attacks in their areas, as well as beach and weather conditions.
“The app, which is being developed by SLSWA from $50,000 Government funding, is due to be given its first trial this month,” Mrs Harvey said.
“It will have the latest beach, weather and shark information uploaded on a regular basis and will be available to the public for free.”
The Minister said the Government’s shark mitigation strategy followed an unprecedented five fatal shark attacks in a 12-month period.
In November 2011, $13.65million across five years was allocated for shark mitigation strategies that included a Shark Response Unit in Fisheries, shark-related research projects and expansion of helicopter and beach patrols
In September 2012, an additional $6.85million over four years was invested in shark risk mitigation strategies, including $500,000 over two years to purchase additional jet-skis
Further $300,000 was announced in January 2012 for construction of watchtower at Cottesloe beach
Source: Government of Western Australia
Surf Life Saving Western Australia
Surf Life Saving WA releases shark sighting figures
The Surf Life Saving WA rescue helicopter crews have been kept busy in the metropolitan area and South-West so far this summer season, with over 240 sharks sighted by the rescue services.
“Since patrols began the metropolitan and South-West Surf Life Saving WA rescue helicopters have recorded a total of 246 shark sightings and played a crucial role in clearing beaches of swimmers and providing eyes in the sky for lifesaving services on the beach.
“We have seen our helicopter crews becoming more skilled at identifying shark species in varying conditions and the process of the helicopter and on beach lifesaving patrols clearing the water in response to a shark sighting is highly effective,” said Surf Life Saving WA Chief Executive Officer, Paul Andrew.
Shark surveillance is an important role of the rescue helicopters, but the services also play a crucial role in watching over swimmers, identifying rip currents and responding to emergencies and search tasking.
Extended aerial patrols were part of the State Government’s shark mitigation strategy, which had so far received more than $20million in funding.
“Surf Life Saving WA acknowledges the support of the State Government for their assistance in our aerial surveillance programs and on beach patrols throughout the state,” said Andrew.
On the beach, Surf Life Saving WA services have been kept busy and have so far performed 711 rescues, 11,165 preventative actions and treated 2,656 beach-goers with first aid since patrols began in October.
Surf Life Saving WA aerial surveillance – Shark sighting statistics
- The 2012/2013 season runs September to April for metro helicopter and November to January for the South-West helicopter
- The 2011/2012 season totals refers to the period of October to March for metro helicopter and November to January for the South-West helicopter
- *60 schooling hammerheads were sighted at Bunker Bay on 22/01/13 and resulted in an inflated total. SLSWA would classify this as one sighting, but the total sharks have been included in these stats
Source: Surf Life Saving WA