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Shark deterrent subsidised, but will surfers use it?

A Flinders University study has shown the new shark deterrent being subsidised by the state government reduces the risk of a shark interaction by up to 60 per cent.

Fisheries minister Dave Kelly announced the inclusion of the new surfer specific device to the state governments personal shark deterrent subsidy on May 23.

Ocean Guardians FREEDOM+ Surf device was tested off the Neptune Islands in South Australia – a known white shark aggregation point and a major fur-seal pupping location.

The research resulted in 297 successful trials, in which 44 different white sharks interacted with bait and undertook 1,413 passes of the test board.

When the device was activated, white sharks were observed to visibly react at an average distance of 1.7 metres from the device.

The device reduced the percentage of bait taken from 96 per cent for the control board to 40 per cent when the device was active.

Other deterrents tested included Rpela, SharkBanz bracelet, SharkBanz surf leash, and Chilla..

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A Flinders University study has shown the new shark deterrent being subsidised by the state government reduces the risk of a shark interaction by up to 60 per cent.

Fisheries minister Dave Kelly announced the inclusion of the new surfer specific device to the state governments personal shark deterrent subsidy on May 23.

Ocean Guardians FREEDOM+ Surf device was tested off the Neptune Islands in South Australia – a known white shark aggregation point and a major fur-seal pupping location.

The research resulted in 297 successful trials, in which 44 different white sharks interacted with bait and undertook 1,413 passes of the test board.

When the device was activated, white sharks were observed to visibly react at an average distance of 1.7 metres from the device.

The device reduced the percentage of bait taken from 96 per cent for the control board to 40 per cent when the device was active.

Other deterrents tested included Rpela, SharkBanz bracelet, SharkBanz surf leash, and Chillax Wax.

Of the five products tested, only FREEDOM+ Surf produced a statistically significant reduction in the level of interactions with the bait/board compared to the control.

Ocean Guardian chief executive officer Lindsay Lyon said the results of the latest testing were no surprise.

“The Shark Shield Technology efficacy has been scientifically proven and independently tested time and time again in multiple locations around the world,” she said.

“No safety product, whether its a seat belt, bike helmet or shark deterrent can reduce a 100 per cent of risk.

“Mandated seat belts save lives and wearing a properly adjusted seat belt reduces the risk of fatal or serious injury by up to 50 per cent. This recent research shows that the Surf+ significantly reduces the risk of a shark encounter for surfers in an enticed baited scenario by up to 60 per cent. In the test environment, youre effectively surfing on top of a dead whale.”

The state government subsidy will come into effect on May 25.

Western Australians will be able to access a $200 rebate through retailers who sell the device and are registered with the department.

Fisheries minister Dave Kelly said research showed even in extreme circumstances – chummed and baited waters – the FREEDOM+ Surf reduced the risk of a shark interaction with a great white shark by at least 60 per cent.

“The departments scientists advise me that in more normal conditions, the device may produce an even higher level of deterrence,” he said.

“Im sure that with the addition of this new device, we will see even more people purchase a device and significantly reduce their chance of a shark interaction.”

Besides the rebate, the governments shark mitigation strategy includes more than $7 million in funding for Surf Life Saving WA beach, helicopter and drone patrols and funding Beach Emergency Number signs.

However, Vasse MLA and shadow minister for tourism, Libby Mettam, said the state government adding a subsidy to FREEDOM+ Surf , which had been on the market for a year, was too little, too late.

“Offering a subsidy on a commercial device does not address the public safety concerns and it will do nothing to address tourism impacts of shark activity in WA,” she said.

“Minister Kelly is still cherry picking what he thinks will be cheap options rather than putting together a comprehensive strategy.

“We are no closer to seeing event disruption avoided in WA and no closer to preventing attacks on people using our oceans.”

Earlier in the week, Mr Kelly rejected an offer of five free SMART drumlines from the New South Wales government.

Ms Mettam, an advocate for the SMART drumline shark mitigation strategy, said she was dismayed by the refusal.

For those closest to the issue, the states water users, the news of the latest subsidy was welcomed.

Julie and Leon Brouwer, parents of shark attack victim Laeticia Brouwer, said they supported the latest independent study to validate technology aimed at personal safety in the surf.

“This along with a range of other strategies such as increased surveillance and awareness raising should all be part of the management solution,” they said.

“There are a range of other management options that the surfing community would also like to see taken up by government, and are being discussed further but will take time to progress.

“However in the short term, personal shark deterrents are available now, and along with the backing of a scientifically valid report, and the government subsidy – as surfers we can do our bit to prevent further attacks.”

Two-time World Surf Champion Tom Carroll, who was involved in the design of the product, said it was great news for ocean lovers.

“With this product, surfers can keep themselves protected without the need for harming sharks and other marine life. Its a win-win,” he said.

The FREEDOM+ Surf device is billed as having no impact on performance and retails at $599.

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Australia

Sydney seaplane crash: Exhaust fumes affected pilot, report confirms

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The pilot of a seaplane that crashed into an Australian river, killing all on board, had been left confused and disorientated by leaking exhaust fumes, investigators have confirmed.

The Canadian pilot and five members of a British family died in the crash north of Sydney in December 2017.

All were found to have higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, a final report has found.

It recommended the mandatory fitting of gas detectors in all such planes.

British businessman Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside his 48-year-old fiancée, magazine editor Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44. Mr Cousins was the chief executive of catering giant Compass.

The family had been on a sightseeing flight in the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane when it nose-dived into the Hawkesbury River at Jerusalem Bay, about 50km (30 miles) from the city centre.

The final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed the findings of an interim report published in 2020.

It said pre-existing cracks in the exhaust collector ring were believed to have released exhaust gas into the engine bay. Holes left by missing bolts in a firewall then allowed the fumes to enter the cabin.

“As a result, the pilot would have almost certainly experienced effects such as confusion, visual disturbance and disorientation,” the report said.

“Consequently, it was likely that this significantly degraded the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”

The ATSB recommended the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider mandating the fitting of carbon monoxide detectors in piston-engine aircraft that carry passengers.

It previously issued safety advisory notices to owners and operators of such aircraft that they install detectors “with an active warning” to pilots”. Operators and maintainers of planes were also advised to carry out detailed inspections of exhaust systems and firewalls.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55862128

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Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021, says top official

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Australia is unlikely to fully open its borders in 2021 even if most of its population gets vaccinated this year as planned, says a senior health official.

The comments dampen hopes raised by airlines that travel to and from the country could resume as early as July.

Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy made the prediction after being asked about the coronavirus’ escalation in other nations.

Dr Murphy spearheaded Australia’s early action to close its borders last March.

“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.

“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.

Citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions are allowed to enter Australia if they complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.

Qantas – Australia’s national carrier – reopened bookings earlier this month, after saying it expected international travel to “begin to restart from July 2021.”

However, it added this depended on the Australian government’s deciding to reopen borders.

Australia’s tight restrictions

The country opened a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand late last year, but currently it only operates one-way with inbound flights to Australia.

Australia has also discussed the option of travel bubbles with other low-risk places such as Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.

A vaccination scheme is due to begin in Australia in late February. Local authorities have resisted calls to speed up the process, giving more time for regulatory approvals.

Australia has so far reported 909 deaths and about 22,000 cases, far fewer than many nations. It reported zero locally transmitted infections on Monday.

Experts have attributed much of Australia’s success to its swift border lockdown – which affected travellers from China as early as February – and a hotel quarantine system for people entering the country.

Local outbreaks have been caused by hotel quarantine breaches, including a second wave in Melbourne. The city’s residents endured a stringent four-month lockdown last year to successfully suppress the virus.

Other outbreaks – including one in Sydney which has infected about 200 people – prompted internal border closures between states, and other restrictions around Christmas time.

The state of Victoria said on Monday it would again allow entry to Sydney residents outside of designated “hotspots”, following a decline in cases.

While the measures have been praised, many have also criticised them for separating families across state borders and damaging businesses.

Dr Murphy said overall Australia’s virus response had been “pretty good” but he believed the nation could have introduced face masks earlier and improved its protections in aged care homes.

In recent days, Australia has granted entry to about 1,200 tennis players, staff and officials for the Australian Open. The contingent – which has recorded at least nine infections – is under quarantine.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55699581

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Covid: Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown over single infection

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The Australian city of Brisbane has begun a snap three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with coronavirus.

Health officials said the cleaner had the highly transmissible UK variant and they were afraid it could spread.

Brisbane has seen very few cases of the virus beyond quarantined travellers since Australia’s first wave last year.

It is the first known instance of this variant entering the Australian community outside of hotel quarantine.

The lockdown is for five populous council areas in Queensland’s state capital.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the measure on Friday morning local time, about 16 hours after the woman tested positive.

Ms Palaszczuk said the lockdown aimed to halt the virus as rapidly as possible, adding: “Doing three days now could avoid doing 30 days in the future.”

“I think everybody in Queensland… knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain,” she said.

“And we do not want to see that happening here in our great state.”

Australia has reported 28,500 coronavirus infections and 909 deaths since the pandemic began. By contrast, the US, which is the hardest-hit country, has recorded more than 21 million infections while nearly 362,000 people have died of the disease.The lockdown will begin at 18:00 on Friday (08:00 GMT) in the Brisbane city, Logan and the Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands local government areas.

Residents will only be allowed to leave home for certain reasons, such as buying essential items and seeking medical care.

For the first time, residents in those areas will also be required to wear masks outside of their homes.

Australia has faced sporadic outbreaks over the past year, with the most severe one in Melbourne triggering a lockdown for almost four months.

A pre-Christmas outbreak in Sydney caused fresh alarm, but aggressive testing and contact-tracing has kept infection numbers low. The city recorded four local cases on Friday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has pledged to start mass vaccinations in February instead of March as was planned.

Lockdown interrupts ‘near normal’ life in Brisbane

Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Brisbane

At 8:00 today I popped to the local supermarket for some bread, milk – and because it’s summer here – a mango. I was pretty much the only customer.

When I went past the same shop a couple of hours later it was a different story – 50 people standing in the drizzle – queuing to get inside as others emerged with bulging shopping bags. “Heaps busier than Christmas,” a cheery trolley attendant told me. “It’s off the scale”.

Despite the “don’t panic” messages from authorities, pictures on social media show it’s a pattern being repeated across the city.

While shutdowns are common around the world, the tough and sudden stay-at-home order for Brisbane has caught people on the hop here after months of near normality.

But while such a rapid, hard lockdown off the back of just a single case of Covid-19 will seem crazy in some parts of the world, I’ve not come across too many people complaining.

And I don’t think that’s just because Aussies love to follow a rule. This is the first time the UK variant of the virus has been detected in the community in Australia.

And nobody here wants Brisbane to go through what Melbourne suffered last year. Even if it means going without mangoes.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55582836

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