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Why should tax payers fund unproven shark deterrent technology?

Why should tax payers fund unproven shark deterrent technology?

Why the push for SMART Drumlines? July 2018

Lindsay Lyon, CEO of Ocean Guardian, the only scientifically proven and independently tested electrical shark deterrent technology, is questioning the parties supporting SMART drumlines – a technology that has no scientific evidence to show the reduction in the risk of shark attacks.

Lindsay Lyon says, “The proposed drumlines being pushed by Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg could cost WA tax payers up to $100m over 5 years. This figure could easily equate to 500,000 divers and surfers receiving the WA Government’s $200 rebate which would surely cover 100% of all the divers and surfers in WA with a proven deterrent device.”

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly has also been quoted saying, “Do we really want to pay at least $100 million over five years for hundreds of baited hooks to be placed up and down our coast, when the Federal Minister has not provided any scientific evidence to show that these drumlines reduce the risk of shark attacks?”

Over the past five years, the NSW Liberal Government and former WA Liberal Government both invested in research on Ocean Guardian’s personal shark deterrents. Research that provided peer reviewed published scientific evidence that Ocean Guardian personal shark deterrents significantly reduce the risk of a shark attack.

The risk to the general swimming public is extremely low with surfers and divers the most at risk >70% of all fatalities. Of the 15 fatalities over 15 years in WA 13 were divers or surfers. Given the often-remote locations of these fatalities the only reliable method of offering protection for these ocean users is personal protection. Aerial surveillance, drum lines, shark nets may assist, however nowhere near the effectiveness of using personal deterrents.

“If 100% of surfers and divers used personal deterrents (akin to seat belts for driving) you will have solved over 70% of the problem (fatalities). The USA National Highway Traffic Safety Administration state seatbelts and airbags reduce the risk of a fatality or serious injury by up to 50%. No safety product in any category can remove 100% of risk,” said Lyon.

A 2013 Marketforce survey commissioned by the Barnett Government also found that over 80 percent of Western Australians believe that the responsibility for ensuring beach safety against sharks, lies with the individual, not the Government.

“The policy of educating and encouraging people to take personal responsibility for ocean shark safety, given the extremely low risk, should be considered good economic public policy. Well done to WA Labour for not giving in to the pressure from Minister Frydenberg and the Australian media that push for SMART drumlines or shark culling as the ultimate solutions because they are not. Our track record with the environment stamds at zero,” said Lyon.

Along with Sea Shepherd, Ocean Guardian is encouraging the Greens and WA Government to stick to their guns on this, to not cave in on shark mitigation strategies that are not based on science.

Lyon adds, “Increased adoption of Ocean Guardian products driven by programs such as the shark deterrent rebate, will allow us to increase our manufacturing volumes which will enable us to lower the price over time making them even more affordable. If you want to invest in proven shark deterrent technology, invest in Ocean Guardian.”

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