A summit will be held to discuss what the Queensland Government should do about sharks in the Whitsundays. Picture: Daryl Wright
A summit will be held to discuss what the Queensland Government should do about sharks in the Whitsundays. Picture: Daryl Wright

Crisis talks to be held over horror shark attacks

THREE shark attacks in the same harbour - in one of Queensland's most popular tourist destinations - has led to the Government holding crisis talks tomorrow to find a solution.

Dr Daniel Christidis, 33, was attacked at Cid Harbour in the Whitsundays region on Monday at the start of a yacht trip with friends.

Despite the best efforts from his friends and colleagues, the doctor died on his way to Mackay Base Hospital.

It was the third serious shark mauling at Cid Harbour in two months after Tasmanian woman Justine Barwick and Melbourne girl Hannah Papps were bitten in separate attacks in September. Hannah, 12, later had her leg amputated.

Drumlines were installed for a week after Hannah's attack with the Department of Fisheries catching and killing a number of sharks before removing the baited lines.

Before the three attacks in Cid Harbour, the Whitsundays hadn't seen a shark attack for eight years.

The death has renewed debate over shark mitigation measures, with the Queensland Government convening a roundtable of shark experts, local tourism operators and the Whitsundays Council to discuss the best way forward.

Queensland's Liberal National Party opposition is calling for a full parliamentary inquiry into the state's shark control program and the implementation of drumlines in the area.

However Tourism Minister Kate Jones said they were sticking with their decision on Tuesday not to put in drumlines.

"(The tourism operators) want the opportunity to sit down with the scientific experts so they also understand the science more deeply," Ms Jones said on Wednesday.

 

Authorities will hold crisis talks to discuss sharks in the Whitsundays. Picture: Daryl Wright
Authorities will hold crisis talks to discuss sharks in the Whitsundays. Picture: Daryl Wright

 

Also on Wednesday the state's public sector union announced fisheries officers would go on strike as part of an unrelated ongoing pay dispute.

State Fisheries Minister Mark Furner insisted the industrial action would not affect moves to install signs warning people of sharks in Cid Harbour, with the local council and even police helping with efforts.

"All the agencies are working together to ensure people are being warned in the area now - do not swim in Cid Harbour," he said.

Reports of operators dumping scraps over the sides of boats, which could be exacerbating shark activity in the area, will be discussed at the roundtable.

LNP Member for the Queensland seat of Hinkler, in the coastal region of central Queensland, Keith Pitt is calling for a major cull of sharks in north Queensland, claiming their population in the Whitsundays has reached "plague proportions".

Despite calls to consult experts first, federal MP Mr Pitt has declared open season on sharks in the region.

"I've had local fishos telling me the sharks are in plague proportion," Mr Pitt told The Courier-Mail.

"They are an apex predator and we should thin them out."

Yesterday, lifesavers on the NSW north coast closed a number of beaches around Ballina after a surfer was mauled by a great white shark in a separate attack.

Lee Jonsson, 43, was bitten on his left calf during an early morning surf at Shelly Beach in Ballina.

A NSW Ambulance spokesman said Mr Jonsson "did a Mick Fanning" and fought the shark off with his surfboard before driving himself to hospital.

A NSW Police spokesman said the beach was closed and officers liaised with surf lifesavers and the Department of Primary Industries.

Surrounding beaches in Ballina will stay closed for the next 24 hours as surf lifesaving drones attempt to locate sharks. Experts later identified the shark as a 2.6m-long juvenile white shark.

Ballina became known as the shark attack capital of Australia back in 2015 after Japanese surfer Tadashi Nakahara was killed by a shark on Shelly Beach in February that year.

In July 2015, bodyboarder Mat Lee had both of his legs mauled by a great white shark on Lighthouse Beach, next to Shelly Beach.

From 2014 to 2016 there were 11 attacks on the NSW north coast. In November 2016, the NSW Government installed five nets off Ballina. The nets were removed in August this year.

- with wires



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