SHARK DRUMLINES STORY
The West Australian
Proposal to use Shark Shields as an alternative to the government’s contentious “catch and kill” policy.
Elyse Frankcom was 19 when she was attacked by a 3.7-metre great white shark while working as a snorkel tour guide in Rockingham, south of Perth, over three years ago. A fisherman on the tour, Trevor Burns, grabbed the shark’s tail and Ms Frankcom managed to activate a shark shield wrapped around her ankle, before falling unconscious. She believes the device saved her life.
“Once this Shark Shield was turned on, the shark had left the area, despite blood being in the water, despite an attack already, the shark was not seen once this shark shield was on,” she said.
“I strongly believe, along with Trevor Burns grabbing the tail of the shark, and making it let go, that this device right here, the shark shield, undoubtedly saved mine and Trevor Burns’ life.”
Ms Frankcom is backing the Opposition’s call for the government to subsidise shark shields, which repel sharks by emitting an electrical field, over the government’s shark mitigation policy. Under that policy, any shark over three metres in length that is caught on baited drum lines set across beaches off Perth and the South West, is killed. The Opposition says so far, about 55 sharks have been caught and up to seven have been killed. Labor Leader Mark McGowan says the government should divert the money it is spending on this strategy to covering part of the cost of the devices, which retail between $300 and $600.
“What I’m suggesting today is all of this money that we’re spending on culling could be better spent on making these devices available for surf clubs, perhaps by providing vouchers for divers and surfers to assist them to purchase one of them, to elevate these individual protection measures, so they’re more available to the general community,” he said.
“These shark shields are proven, they work, they’re deployed by the Royal Australian Navy with their divers, they’re deployed by police divers around Australia, they’re deployed by the US navy with their divers.”
Scar tissue lines the top of Elyse Frankcom’s legs, a permanent reminder of the shark that nearly took her life. But despite that, Ms Frankcom does not support the government’s policy.
“I absolutely oppose it, I think it’s terrible, I do not believe in it, I think it’s wrong, and I don’t see the fact that it’s going to help at all,” she said.
“I think they’re putting that much money into shark culling, that they could be putting that into something a little more substantial, that’s going to be ongoing, that also helps to preserve the wildlife in the ocean that’s a natural beauty and belongs there,” she said.
The government has been contacted for comment.