House debates

Thursday, 17 February 2022

Statements by Members

O'Connor Electorate: Shark Attacks

1:56 pm

Photo of Rick WilsonRick Wilson (O'Connor, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Firstly I extend my condolences to the family and friends, and to the first responders and the witnesses to yesterday's horrific fatal shark attack in Little Bay, off New South Wales.

Esperance, on the southern coast of my electorate, famous for its award-winning white beaches and crystal-clear waters, has been experiencing an increasing number of white shark attacks in recent years. Today I recognise Jacquelin Morley, who survived an attack at the notorious Kelp Beds of Wylie Bay on 6 February. I commend the actions of nearby beachgoers and the Esperance Health Campus in managing her injuries. But I call out the WA Labor government and three successive fisheries ministers for ignoring pleas to adopt an imminent danger and shark attack response plan to protect ocean users.

Since 2017 the Esperance Ocean Safety and Support group has repeatedly called on the Department of Fisheries to adopt a 'catch, tag, relocate and release' policy, designed to deter as well as monitor problem sharks. Following the white shark attack on Sean Pollard in 2014, drum lines were deployed and two white sharks were caught, giving the community confidence to return to the water. After three fatal shark attacks from 2017 to 2020, no action was taken against the problem sharks. After the attack on Jacquelin Morley, drone footage showed a white shark still in the area, but nothing was done to mitigate further risk. The Esperance community deserves assurances that the WA government will keep our ocean users safe while building on the science and behaviour of white sharks to mitigate future injury and loss of life.