Regional surfers and divers have switched on to the McGowan Government's world first personal shark deterrent subsidy, with about a third of all rebates claimed in Western Australia purchased by those living in regional areas.
Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly has today revealed new statistics, after launching a digital campaign over the weekend to encourage more surfers to take advantage of the McGowan Government's $200 shark deterrent device rebate.
The figures show that, of the regional WA rebates - South West surfers and divers claimed the most rebates with a figure of 56 per cent.
South West surfers also constituted 20 per cent of all surf device rebates and 18 per cent of all dive device rebates in the State. In total, ocean users in the region claimed 682 rebates for both scientifically proven devices to date.
Almost 50 per cent of surf devices in the State were claimed by surfers aged between 24 and 44 years of age. Busselton and Dunsborough both rank in the top 10 locations for surf rebates claimed, while Busselton and Bunbury rank in the top 10 locations for dive rebates claimed in the State.
The Ocean Guardian FREEDOM+ Surf™ device designed for surfers was tested and proven by Flinders University in extreme circumstances – chummed and baited waters in a known shark aggregation area.
The science revealed the device's electrical field had an effective six metre radius and reduced the risk of interaction with a great white shark by at least 60 per cent. In less extreme surfing conditions, the device is likely to produce an even higher level of deterrence.
Since 2000,13 of the 15 fatal shark attack victims in WA have been surfers or divers.
The McGowan Government's world-first subsidy program began in May 2017 with the scientifically proven dive device, and the surf device was added in May 2018 after scientific testing confirmed its effectiveness. Since the program launched, more than 3,700 Western Australian ocean users have purchased a personal shark deterrent through the scheme.
More information at: https://www.sharksmart.com.au/staying-safe/rebate/
Comments attributed to Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly:
"Our beach culture is the best in the world, and we want to continue to see people enjoy the ocean with confidence.
"While the risk of a shark attack in WA is low, history shows us that when an encounter does occur it predominately involves a surfer or diver.
"That's why offering personal protection to those most at risk makes good Sea Sense.
"It's pleasing to see South West surfers and divers take their safety seriously, with more surfers and divers in this region claiming a personal shark deterrent than in any other regional location.
"We want to continue to see more people, particularly surfers, to use their Sea Sense by purchasing one of these scientifically proven devices.
"That's why over the weekend we have launched a new digital campaign to encourage surfers to take up the McGowan Government's $200 shark deterrent device rebate.
"Using a shark deterrent makes good Sea Sense for your personal safety, as is checking the SharkSmart website before you head to the beach."
Comments attributed to Don Punch MLA, Member for Bunbury:
"I am not surprised there has been such a strong uptake of the personal shark deterrent rebates in our region. I am really pleased the McGowan Government is supporting our community in this way.
"We all enjoy the beach and all it has to offer with surfing and diving being some of the most popular recreation pursuits in the region. I commend the Fisheries Minister for continuing to prioritise individual safety of those doing what they love with the implementation of this program.
"Most of us will not encounter a shark in a lifetime of enjoying the beaches of the South West, but if you are a diver, surfer or anyone who spends a lot of time in our waters - a personal shark deterrent will help keep you safe."
Minister's office - 6552 6100