Development of a community engagement strategy to bring awareness and understanding regarding shark hazards in Western Australia is now in progress, following the appointment of expert consultants.
Department of Fisheries Shark Response Unit Manager Lisa Clack said Marketforce was selected from a field of 12 tenderers and was one of WA’s largest communications companies, with a strong track record of working on Government projects.
'Part of the shark mitigation, research and education initiatives announced by the Government in the past year, the four-year strategy will include consultation with stakeholders, along with advertising and communications programs,' Ms. Clack said.
'While we have provided an outline for the strategy, we have not been overly prescriptive, in order to allow Marketforce to come up with innovative ideas that might arise through their strategy development work, or from engagement with the community.'
The project will seek to improve public safety by:
- Raising awareness and understanding in the community about shark hazards.
- Engaging the community and other stakeholders to share information and ideas on the management of shark hazards.
- Improving understanding of sharks and their behaviour.
- Improving alert systems by identifying the best methods of communication and engagement in the event of a shark sighting and/or shark incident.
Ms. Clack said the operational structure to deal with shark hazards had been expanded this year, new research projects were now underway and there would be additional helicopter patrols for Perth, Rottnest and popular South West beaches for 2012/13.
'It all starts with the community though and we urge people to look out for each other by reporting shark sightings to the Water Police on 9442 8600,' she said. 'With that one call you can alert authorities and the community at the same time.' Fisheries’ shark sighting information and detections are posted first on Surf Life Saving WA’s Twitter and Facebook beach safety sites.
Visit the Department of Fisheries’ shark information page to learn more.