Liberals promise shark-detecting drones for WA surf lifesaving clubs

Headshot of Geoff Vivian
Geoff VivianThe West Australian
Surf lifesavers Trent Woolley (lifeguard), Doug Simpson (drone trainer and operator) and Lockie Ranson (lifeguard).
Camera IconSurf lifesavers Trent Woolley (lifeguard), Doug Simpson (drone trainer and operator) and Lockie Ranson (lifeguard). Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The Sunday Times, Daniel Wilkins

The WA Liberals are promising shark-detecting drones for every surf life saving club in WA that wants them.

They have also promised $6000 to buy two SMART drum lines to be deployed off Geraldton in case of an imminent shark threat.

The measures would be part of a $27 million package promised to help WA people feel safe from shark attacks should the Liberals win government on March 13.

Champion Bay SLSC president Peter Nelson said about six WA clubs were trialling drones.

“That is at a trial stage and probably coming to the end at the end of this season,” he said. “It would probably roll out over the next four years or so to all the clubs.”

Mr Nelson said clubs with smaller numbers of patrolling members might not have enough people to conduct regular drone patrols.

A photo of a shark taken from a drone.Picture: 7NEWS
Camera IconA photo of a shark taken from a drone.Picture: 7NEWS Credit: 7NEWS/7NEWS

“The next item on our wish list would be jet ski, if anything, because it is a faster, quicker piece of equipment, and in most cases it only requires us to have one operator,” he said.

“For surveillance, you can operate with one operator and if it is a rescue situation when someone might be in dire straits, you have the ability to have a crewman on the rescue mat as well.

“It is a better piece of equipment for our interactions with sea search and rescue because you can get into areas that they can’t such as surf and reef areas.”

Geraldton SLSC president Sally McKenzie said the club was yet to consider using drones but she was also unsure as to whether her club could find enough volunteers to operate them.

WA Liberals leader Zak Kirkup said WA could not afford to invest in just one strategy.

“Shark mitigation requires a multi-faceted approach to ensure we are being as proactive as possible,” he said.

Nationals Member for Geraldton Ian Blayney said the drum lines and drones were useful for monitoring Geraldton’s beaches and he would support their purchase if he were re-elected and his party formed a government.

Labor candidate for Geraldton Lara Dalton was contacted for comment.

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