Shark monitors set to be installed next month

Catherine MasseyBusselton Dunsborough Times
Phil Mummert, shark attack victim at Bunker Bay. Pictured with partner Mish Wright.
Camera IconPhil Mummert, shark attack victim at Bunker Bay. Pictured with partner Mish Wright. Credit: supplied

Sharks will be monitored at Bunker Bay, where a young surfer was attacked by a great white just two months ago.

The WA Government has yielded to calls to put monitoring network receivers at the popular spot, which will provide real-time alerts when a tagged shark comes into range.

On Saturday, Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley announced the VR4 receivers and said an alert tower would be installed at Bunker Bay next month.

The decision was prompted by a shark attack on surfer Phil Mummert at The Farm surf break in July, and other shark attacks in the area — including the death of 21-year-old bodyboarder Kyle Burden nine years ago.

The two new receivers can detect tagged sharks up to 400m away and will expand WA’s shark monitoring network to 34 locations, including four along the Esperance coast and three near Gracetown.

A shark warning system will be installed on the beach, between the two Bunker Bay receivers.

The estimated cost of the two new receivers is $150,000 while the alert tower will cost $15,000.

Mr Mummert said he did not “hold a grudge” against sharks, saying he understood the ocean was their domain.

“I think it’s a great idea. The more of those kind of things we can have the better,” he said.

“It’s a much better option than culling, or the drum lines.

“I am very much of the opinion that the ocean is their territory, and that’s what they are going to do.”

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said the announcement was welcome news and a great step in strengthening the South West shark mitigation strategy.

“This is something I have been calling for since the introduction of the SMART drum line trial, and with a real-time alert and warning will importantly provide further protection for beachgoers,” she said.

Mr Tinley said the chance of a shark encounter in WA was low but the aim was to make sure all water users stayed safe.

The City of Busselton will operate the tower’s lights and sirens.

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