By Nelson Liu and Elyse Simich
The WA Greens are concerned that young people are not taking advantage of the government subsidised shark deterrent devices.
Greens Marine Spokesperson Diane Evers said of all the people who have applied for the rebate, only seven per cent of them are under 25, despite young people having a high participation level in ocean activities and sports.
The first one thousand people to apply for the rebate get back $200 on the device, which retails at approximately $750.
“We’re really pleased to see that it’s been taken up, but what we’ve found is only seven per cent of the rebate are under 25,” Ms Evers said.
“It seems like there’s something stopping them.”
Ms Evers said she was particularly interested in the low uptake in the Margaret River region, considering the area is well-known for its good surf.
Examining the postcodes of rebate applicants showed just 10 people in the Margaret River, Yallingup and Dunsborough area had applied for the rebate as of September 2017.
However, the rebate had been popular in coastal metropolitan suburbs.
She said there were a range of reasons which might prevent young people from purchasing and using the shark deterrent device, including cost and comfort.
“What I want to find out is, is it the cost that that makes it difficult, because it is sort of $500 off to the rebate so that may be stopping them from doing it.”
“I have heard some suggestion that it can actually give you a shock. You wear it around your ankle and it’s possible you can get a bit of an electric shock and that could be uncomfortable.”
“Maybe they just don’t see the risk that other people do and they’re happy to go out into the water without the shark deterrent.”
WA Seashepherd Managing Director Jeff Hansen said more young people should be taking up this offer to ensure their safety in the water.
“Over 80 per cent of Western Australians believe that mitigating one’s own risk is up to the individual, so they should be taking up the shark rebate scheme,” he said.
The Shark Shield Freedom 7 device is currently available and marketed towards divers, spear fishers and kayakers. A deterrent for surfers is currently unavailable.
However, with further research into devices being conducted, a device for surfers may become available in the future.
“What they’re looking at is the people that have actually been bitten by sharks are usually surfers and divers,” Ms Evers said.
“There’s plenty of research going on in this area and people trying to come up with things.”
Ms Evers said she urged people to contact her office with feedback about the rebate so it could be improved.