Friday, February 23, 2024

Fremantle eyes shark barrier plan

City of Fremantle Council has announced it will explore locations for a shark barrier to be installed, as the community reels from a recent fatal shark attack at North Bank.  

Fremantle Council last night agreed to appoint a qualified consultant to investigate options for protected swimming areas.

It’s hoped the information garnered by the consultant can be used to help Council to apply for state government funding to cover the cost of the barrier.

The State Shark Hazard Mitigation Program funding sees up to $400,000 per year allocated to local government projects for the purchase and installation of shark barriers at either river or ocean locations, while the ongoing maintenance and operational costs would be managed by the relevant Councils. 

It was extended to include river locations following the tragic death of 16-year-old student, Stella Berry, in the river in February.

“Our community has been rocked by two devastating losses of life in the last 18 months, and people are increasingly nervous about swimming in both the ocean and river,” said Fremantle Mayor, Hannah Fitzhardinge.

“Protected swimming areas are popular and give people a sense of safety that sadly is missing for many right now.

Stella Berry.

“Being in the water is a key part of our Freo lifestyle and this opportunity is definitely worth exploring.

“I’d love to see a decision made in time for us to potentially have a barrier in by next summer.”

The Mayor said a protected swimming spot would help address community concerns following two fatal sharks in the last two years in Fremantle.

Other shark safety measures in place in Fremantle include the Shark Warning System tower at Port Beach, which is automatically triggered when a tagged shark passes the beacon within an 800-metre radius.

Leighton Beach also has a manual alarm, which is sounded when a shark sighting occurs, and has recently been approved for a second Shark Warning System tower.

Surf Life Saving WA aerial patrols and Fremantle Surf Life Saving Club weekend patrols also actively monitor for sharks.

“The City’s Community Safety Officers do an excellent job and are quick to close the beaches and help patrol the area when a shark sighting is reported,” Mayor Fitzhardinge said.

Fremantle’s beaches and rivers include South Beach, Bathers Beach, Port Beach, Sandtrax Beach, Leighton Beach, North Bank, Harvey Beach and parts of the Swan River.

Council will now enter into a procurement process to engage a consultant to investigate suitable locations, preferred technology, environmental considerations and expected capital and operational cost.

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