Drum trial ‘waste of money’

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Albany-based salmon fisherman Tony Westerberg will be supplying baits for the smart drum trial in Gracetown.
Camera IconAlbany-based salmon fisherman Tony Westerberg will be supplying baits for the smart drum trial in Gracetown. Credit: Laurie Benson/Picture: Laurie Benson, Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

The Albany man responsible for supplying bait to the State Government’s SMART shark drum-line trial has slammed the program as a waste of money.

Salmon fisherman Tony Westerberg said Albany salmon was the perfect bait to attract big sharks, but it would be more cost-effective for the State to cull sharks or allow people to hunt them for tourism.

He said he did not believe the non-lethal SMART drum-line trial would achieve much in the long run. “Putting bait in the water to attract and catch sharks and only to tow them 500m offshore and let them go again, it’s pathetic really,” he said.

“And all for a handful of surfers. I think it’s a waste of government resources. If they want to wear a wetsuit and jump around the water like a seal, then that’s a risk they need to deal with.”

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Mr Westerberg, who has been working in the fishing industry for 40 years, was awarded the private contract last November. As the owner of Albany Seafoods, he catches salmon, herring, sardines and mullet for bait — but not sharks.

He is planning to build a salmon cannery in Albany after receiving positive feedback from his salmon recently canned in Thailand.

He said he had noticed an increase in the shark population off Albany and believed something had to be done about it.

“We’ve seen an enormous amount of bronze whalers compared to what we used to,” he said.

“We used to have shark bait here in Albany and each bait used to kill 12 to 30 big sharks a year.

“Now we have no bait so the shark population in the area definitely increased.”

Mr Westerberg said he would supply about 300kg of bait a month for the drum-line trial until the middle of next year.

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