The WA Government has thrown up the possibility of a SMART (shark management alert in real time) drumline trial as the state comes to grips with two shark attacks in one day.
Two men were attacked within hours along a stretch of coast near Gracetown on Monday, sending shock waves through the local community and the professional surfing circuit.
The man involved in the first attack, Alejandro Travaglini, is recovering in a Perth hospital after emergency surgery on injuries to his legs.
Shortly before the second attack, the crew on a Department of Fisheries boat urgently warned surfers they had spotted another shark nearby.
Witness Tim Harriden said he was shocked when he saw Denmark man Jason Longrass still in the water after everyone else had made a beeline for the shore.
Tim Harriden said he was shocked to see Mr Longrass still in the water despite the shark warning. (ABC News: Charlotte Hamlyn)
“We just stood on the beach waiting for something to happen and didn’t really expect it to happen but it did,” he said.
“The shark came up and nailed him, knocked him straight off his board and it was a big shark, really big fin, I was surprised at how big it was.
“We couldn’t believe what we were seeing.
“Firstly that he didn’t get out of the water and secondly how big the shark was, and that it was really having a go — it wasn’t just swimming around having a look.”
Drumline trial would cost $10,000 a day
A graphic of the SMART drumlines used in New South Wales.
(Supplied: NSW Department of Primary Industries)
There have been 15 fatal shark attacks in WA since 2000, with the last occurring on this day in 2017 when 17-year-old Laeticia Brouwer was attacked near Esperance.
The State Government was criticised at the time for not issuing a catch and kill order for the shark involved.
Acting Fisheries Minister Roger Cook said the Government would wait to see the results of a SMART drumline trial in New South Wales before making any commitment.
Mr Cook would not commit to any timeline on a possible SMART drumline trial. (ABC News: Roger Cook)
“[The] line gets triggered when a shark takes the bait,” Mr Cook said.
“Authorities then have 15 minutes to respond to that strike, get access to the shark, tag it and take it out to a safer area.”
Mr Cook said a trial of six locations would cost $10,000 per day, but he would not say where the trial sites might be located or give any funding or timeframe commitments.
“It’s a highly intensive and expensive way of monitoring sharks activity. It requires 24-hour monitoring,” Mr Cook said.
“In Western Australia we have over 12,000 kilometres of coastline, so actually rolling out an expensive program like that may not be the solution.”
Frydenberg blasts state’s shark strategy
The State Government’s approach has come under fire from the Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg for failing to be “proactive”.
Some surfers elected to stay out on the water near Gracetown after the first attack on Monday. (ABC News: Anthony Pancia)
“[They] have not put in place SMART drumlines or other targeted measures like nets,” he told ABC Great Southern.
Mr Frydenberg wants the SMART drumline trial to go ahead in WA, but would not commit any federal funding.
“The money should not be the issue for the Western Australian Government,” he said.
“They have sufficient funding available to follow the lead of the other states and to pay for it themselves.”
Meanwhile, Mr Cook was quick to dismiss concerns about what impact the attacks would have on tourism.
“It is a wild environment, it’s an environment that people are really interested in coming to have a look at,” he said.
“Sharks, snakes, redback spiders are all part of that unique environment.”
The State Government has consistently resisted pressure from its federal counterpart to reintroduce traditional shark drum lines and nets, saying they do not work.
A study released in February cast doubt on anecdotal claims of a jump in shark numbers off WA’s coast.