WA is a step closer to getting the world’s first shark deterrent cable to protect beaches.
Members of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board have flown into Perth to meet the McGowan Government after trials in South Africa showed a 100 per cent success rate in repelling great whites.
The system consists of a main electromagnetic cable fixed to the sea floor, with “vertical risers” supporting electrodes that emit a low frequency pulsed electronic signal which turns away sharks.
The sharks board this week examined beaches at Cottesloe, Mandurah, Busselton and Bunker Bay as possible locations for the technology.
The South African Government would pay for most of the world-first installation, estimated to be about $300,000 for 500m of cable. The sharks board has told the WA Government that Cottesloe was an ideal location but the local council is negotiating with local companies about traditional shark nets instead.
That has allowed North Cottesloe Surf Lifesaving Club to submit a bid to get the cable to protect swimmers in an area of beach opposite Eric Street.
North Cottesloe SLSC president Ian Clarke met the South African delegation on the beach where Ken Crew was killed by a great white in 2000.
“We’re really passionate about keeping our members safe, and we still feel it today after Ken got taken here,” he said.
The club has indicated it would be prepared to contribute to the cost of installing the cable at North Cottesloe.
The City of Busselton has also met the sharks board, hoping the cable shark deterrent can protect Busselton Jetty as a future major dive site.
Busselton mayor Grant Henley said the cable would help restore public confidence on its beaches.
The South African delegation is led by sharks board manager Paul von Blerk, who developed the personal Shark Shield now subsidised by the WA Government.
“We can have this equipment over here in September this year and installed within three or four days,” he said. “It’s really good for the environment compared with the antiquated systems being used worldwide.”
NSW and Queensland are trying to get the world-first shark deterrent on the east coast first. The sharks board has also flown east to discuss replacing long-used drum lines and shark nets with the electromagnetic cable.
But because the traditional systems used on the east coast would be costly to remove, it is likely WA will be the first location.
WA Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly gave nothing away.
“The State Government has had discussions about new technology in WA,” he told The West Australian. He said he would need to know the cost and what would be required of the Government.