Shark Plea

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
Contractors installing VR4 receivers at Lefthanders.
Camera IconContractors installing VR4 receivers at Lefthanders.

The miraculous survival of Dunsborough surfer Phil Mummert from a shark attack at Bunker Bay has renewed calls for more VR4 receivers for public safety.

Mr Mummert was thrown off his surfboard and bitten on the upper leg by a 4.5m white shark at The Farm about 2.15pm last Friday.

Fellow surfers Alex Oliver, Liam Ryan and Jess Woolhouse managed to hold the wound together to stem the bleeding before Mr Mummert was airlifted by helicopter to Bunbury Regional Hospital.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said Friday’s attack highlighted the need for real-time alert warnings at Bunker Bay and Yallingup main break as part of the SMART drum line trial.

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“WA now has at least 115 tagged white sharks and it is essential that hotspots such as Bunker Bay have the capacity to provide real-time alerts when such a shark comes into range,” she said.

Ms Mettam said the State Government’s decision to exclude the beach, which is near a seal colony and enjoys the regular running of salmon schools and whale migration, from the SMART drum line trial needed an “immediate rethink”.

Shark attack heroes Jess Woolhouse, Liam Ryan and Alex Oliver were reunited with survivor Phil Mummert and girlfirend Mish Wright
Camera IconShark attack heroes Jess Woolhouse, Liam Ryan and Alex Oliver were reunited with survivor Phil Mummert and girlfirend Mish Wright Credit: Facebook

Kyle Burden was killed at The Farm by a great white in 2011 and medical experts have described Mr Mummert’s survival as a “miracle”.

“Installing VR4 receivers is the public safety element of this project, although research outcomes are important. Immediate public safety should be the priority,” Ms Mettam said. “It is essential the Labor Government now fully replicate the successful NSW program to see if it would be successful here, as originally promised.”

Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley said he was awaiting advice about the installation of a VR4 receiver near The Farm. “Following last Friday’s incident in which a surfer was bitten by a white shark at a popular surfing spot near Bunker Bay, I asked Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development staff to explore options for enhanced shark mitigation measures in the area,” he said.

VR4 receivers are located at Cowaramup Bay, Lefthanders, Busselton, Meelup and Smiths Beach. South West Safe Shark Group convenor Keith Halnan said placing VR4 receivers at Yallingup and Bunkers would improve public safety.

“The more receivers we have, the higher the public safety element. I don’t know why we haven’t got one in Yallingup; we really do need them in Bunker Bay.

“We need more tags on the great white sharks and the State Government need to change its bait because what they are currently using has only tagged two great whites in 17 months.”

VR4 receiver installation costs about $50,000.

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