Whitsundays shark attack: Man dies

Five-point plan for safety, but no to drumlines

PERMANENT drum lines would not be permitted in the Whitsundays to prevent shark attacks, the Government says.

A crisis summit held yesterday in response to three attacks at Cid Harbour since September resulted in a five-point plan, but despite calls for drumlines by charter boat companies, State Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the measures wouldn't fly.

"They were told quite clearly from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority that it would not approve the use of drum lines or shark nets in this region," she said yesterday.

Melbourne doctor Daniel Christidis died on Monday off Whitsunday Island, following two attacks in September on Tasmanian woman Justine Barwick, who has had to learn to walk again, and 12-year-old Hannah Papps, who lost a leg.

Shark nets or drumlines are already used in 86 locations along the Queensland coast.

Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said those were based closer to the shore at lifesaver-patrolled locations.

"Cid Harbour is a fair distance from the mainland and that's one of the reasons why it wouldn't work," he said.

Drumlines in Cid Harbour after the first two attacks were only approved on a temporary basis, he said. Those lines trapped six sharks in a week.

Cid Harbour, Hamilton Island. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Cid Harbour, Hamilton Island. Picture: Nigel Hallett

Bond University head of graduate research Dr Daryl McPhee said there was no scientific evidence that drumlines "unequivocally work".

The five-point plan released after yesterday's talks includes a ban on swimming in Cid Harbour, which will remain in force until research is completed into shark behaviour in the area.

The State Government has allocated $250,000 to the research and Ms Jones called on her federal colleagues to match it. Stakeholders at yesterday's roundtable will meet again later this year to examine progress.

THE PROBLEM

The Queensland government has met with experts to work out how to prevent people being attacked by sharks following the fatal mauling of a man in Cid Harbour this week, and two non fatal attacks in September.

WHAT THE GOVERNMENT WILL DO

- Give $250,000 towards scientific research into shark prevalence and behaviour in Cid Harbour

- Maintain Cid Harbour as a no-swim zone until that research is complete

- It has already started an education campaign to educate locals and visitors about shark safety

- Develop a broader SharkWISE education campaign, similar to the CrocWISE campaign in North Queensland.

- Continue to meet with industry stakeholders and experts to develop and progress responses.

 

Ministers Mark Furner and Kate Jones said Cid Harbour will remain a no-swim zone until further research is completed.
Ministers Mark Furner and Kate Jones said Cid Harbour will remain a no-swim zone until further research is completed.

WHAT THE OPPOSITION WANTS

- The LNP opposition wants drumlines and shark nets across the Whitsundays, arguing it would bring down shark numbers as it does along other parts of the Queensland coast, where they have been in place for around 50 years.

- However the government says the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority won't sign off on these measures, and experts say drumlines and nets won't effectively reduce the risk of shark attacks in Cid Harbour.

WHAT TOURISM OPERATORS WANT

-To keep tourists safe and their businesses running.

- Some operators support drumlines and other measures like nets to control shark numbers.

- But Tourism Whitsundays says all the operators who met with the government on Friday have agreed to first get the shark awareness message out to visitors and locals.

WHAT SHARK EXPERTS SAY

- Shark experts do not support introducing drumlines and shark nets permanently in the area around Cid Harbour.

- They say there is "no easy fix" to the risk of being attacked by a shark.

- They want to investigate why shark activity in Cid Harbour appears to have increased recently.

- Theories include changed patterns of behaviour in the wake of Cyclone Debbie, and boat operators throwing scraps into the water, encouraging sharks to see boats as a food source.

- Additional reporting Stuart Layt, AAP



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