Department of Fisheries

Media Releases

Shark Technology

Date: Saturday, 13 October 2001
The technology for electronic shark protection in a surf beach situation is still some time away from becoming a practical solution, according to the head of the design team from the company making a range of applications for shark repelling.

Mr Mike-Wescombe-Down has been in Western Australia at the invitation of the Department of Fisheries to discuss options for the application of a range of systems including a new compact personal shark repeller unit.

Mr Wescombe-Down said that the development of the personal unit had been a priority because the company believed people would feel safer if they had personal control in the water.

The deterrent emits a neuro-disruptive field, which affects the balance and coordination of sharks, repelling them from a field area.

However, protective ocean devices (PODs) have been used for a number of years by commercial divers such as abalone divers, recreational divers and Fisheries staff in different parts of Australia.

The Natal Sharks Board did much of the early research and development in South Africa. Mr Wescombe- Down’s company Sea Change Technology, which is based in South Australia has refined and expanded the technology.

This expansion has included the new compact unit, which will go on sale worldwide early next year.

However, the issue of large-scale beach protection equipment currently being debated in the media was still some time away and would be extremely expensive to deliver, Mr Wescombe-Down said.

"In my experience aerial surveillance from low speed fixed wing aircraft provides the best method of monitoring shark activity on local beaches."

The Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Fisheries, Mr Peter Rogers said the risk of attack while swimming, particularly in the metropolitan area was very low.

"People can also a few simple measures to reduce the risk of encountering sharks while swimming. These included:

·Avoid swimming in other than protected areas around dawn and dusk. These are the times of day when most fish prey species are feeding, and sharks of all species are likely to be active.
·Avoid areas where there are large schools of fish or among sea lions or close to rookeries
·Avoid deep- water channels drop-offs nearby."

Mr Rogers said discussions with Sea Change Technology had been very fruitful and the Department of Fisheries would continue to collaborate with the company and Mr Wescombe-Down and the design team in investigating shark deterrents.


MEDIA CONTACTS:
Jenny Hodder
Senior Public Relations Coordinator
Department of Fisheries (WA)
Work): 08 94827235
Mobile : 0418 901 767


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