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Kelly Slater advises of shark fears as Margaret River Pro surfing row deepens

Kelly Slater advises of shark fears as Margaret River Pro surfing row deepens
April 20, 2018

Champion US surfer Kelly Slater has warned about increased shark activity off the Western Australian coast as the State's Tourism Minister took a swipe at the decision to abandon the rest of the Margaret River Pro.

The World Surf League decided on Wednesday to cancel the event with five days remaining over fears about aggressive sharks in the area, after two recreational surfers were attacked near Gracetown on Monday.

The move has split the surfing community and prompted concerns about whether shark attacks are damaging Western Australia's international reputation.

Speaking before the event was cancelled, Slater said he thought the competition should continue, before later throwing his support behind the WSL.

The 11-time world champion advised "I'll go with backing their decision," adding “I can only speak for myself if I were there and I would choose to surf.

“(But) maybe the two shark instances the other day were just a precursor to the larger issue they might experience in the west in the near future.”

Almost 150 pilot whales died in March after a mass stranding at Hamelin Bay, about 35 kilometres south of Margaret River and 50 kilometres from Gracetown, with authorities issuing a shark advice alert for the area.

Slater also suggested there were differing opinions about why some competitors did not want to carry on at Margaret River.

However, Western Australian Tourism Minister Paul Papalia, who earlier backed the WSL's decision, has questioned how much it was influenced by the views of some surfers.

Minister Papalia stated “they've effectively decided that some surfers can drive which events they hold or not.

"That would be the equivalent of tennis players saying they're not going to play the Australian Open because the weather's too hot or something."

Minister Papalia said the WSL was putting its business in jeopardy by cancelling events because of shark incidents, adding "I support the WSL … it was their decision to make, but I would just caution surfers, professional surfers, that their business is surfing.

"If you then put at jeopardy your future business because of a view, a personal view about one particular site, as opposed to any other particular site, then you're putting at jeopardy your business."

Minister Papalia said he did not think the shark attacks and event cancellation would damage Western Australia's image or affect tourism.

Images: Kelly Slater (top, courtesy of WSL/Damien Poullenot) and fans take in the Margaret River Pro action (below).

18th April 2018 - SHARK ATTACKS PROMPT CANCELLATION OF MARGARET RIVER PRO SURFING EVENT 

14th March 2018 - INTERNATIONAL TOURISM SLUMPS IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA AMID EAST COAST BOOM 

24th February 2018 - RECORD MEDAL HAUL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA AT NATIONAL TOURISM AWARDS

29th November 2017 - 2018 WORLD SURF LEAGUE CALENDAR TO INCLUDE ARTIFICIAL WAVE PARK VENUE 

8th September 2017 - WESTERN AUSTRALIAN BUDGET BACKS TOURISM, CUTS ROYALTIES FOR REGIONS PROGRAM 

19th May 2017 - NEW GENERATION ARTIFICIAL SURF TECHNOLOGY PRODUCING 1000 WAVES AN HOUR 

14th March 2017 - NEW TOURISM COLLABORATION TO PROMOTE WESTERN AUSTRALIA’S SOUTH WEST 

29th July 2016 - BUSSELTON FESTIVAL OF TRIATHLON CROSSES THE LINE AS PROFESSIONAL EVENT OF THE YEAR 

10th June 2016 - WESTERN AUSTRALIAN PREMIER SAYS SHARK ATTACKS IMPACTING TOURISM AND WAY OF LIFE

30th September 2015 - SHARK DETERRENTS DISCUSSED AT SUMMIT OF WORLD EXPERTS IN SYDNEY

3rd July 2013 - $120 MILLION TO BE SPENT ON MARGARET RIVER TOURISM INFRASTRUCTURE

7th April 2013 - DRUG AWARE MARGARET RIVER PRO SETS NEW RECORDS


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