Vic with his record great white, caught near Phillip Island.
Vic with his record great white, caught near Phillip Island.

Shark hunter makes grim prediction after fatal attack

VETERAN shark hunter Vic Hislop believes yesterday's fatal shark attack off Fraser Island could have been prevented.

The Hervey Bay man said he had fought his whole life to save people from sharks but his advice continued to be ignored.

"I can tell you where the great whites are as they travel north during winter," he said.

"They start arriving on the Fraser Coast from July 1 every year.

"We know this yet there aren't any warnings on the island to tell people to watch out."

Mr Hislop believes the public are misled by viral videos.

"People watch videos of people swimming with sharks and treating them like teddy bears," he said.

Vic Hislop out the front of his newly reopened shark show in 2013.Photo: Alistair Brightman / Fraser Coast Chronicle
Vic Hislop out the front of his newly reopened shark show in 2013.Photo: Alistair Brightman / Fraser Coast Chronicle


Mr Hislop believes the reason there hasn't been more attacks in the region is pure luck.

"There are thousands and thousands of sharks around and they will attack," he said.

"They are travelling north and passing so many places, like the Central Coast, where it can go wrong.

"It just might happen that the sharks swim past at night or they happen to be kilometres out to sea so nothing happens but if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, sharks don't muck around."

Mr Hislop spoke to the Chronicle following the tragi death of Sunshine Coast father, Matthew Tratt.

He was attacked and killed by a suspected great white shark while spear fishing off Indian Head, Fraser Island.

The 73-year-old said the government's decision to protect sharks would result in more deaths.

"We are out there killing bream, whiting and flathead," he said.

"Trawlers and fishermen are taking from the food chain but the sharks at the top are protected.

"The shark could kill your little girl or boy and the government will protect that killer with military force if required."

Vic Hislop and his boat that the swallows built their nest on.Photo: Alistair Brightman / Fraser Coast Chronicle
Vic Hislop and his boat that the swallows built their nest on.Photo: Alistair Brightman / Fraser Coast Chronicle


The shark hunter said he shuddered when he thought about the inefficiency of shark nets.

"I used to dive along shark nets and see all the dolphins, turtles and dugongs caught in them," he said.

"They might stop little sharks but the big ones that people are concerned about just rip holes in them big enough for trains to drive through.

"They come to eat all of the other animals that have been caught."

He also has no faith in new technology methods like drone patrols.

According to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, since the State Government's Shark Control Program was implemented in 1962 there has been only one fatal shark attack on a protected beach.

From 1916 to 1962 there were 36 shark attacks and 19 fatalities.

The SCP relies on nets or drumlines or a combination of both which lowers the risk of shark attack but does not provide an impenetrable barrier between sharks and humans.

The SCP also works to reduce the effect of prevention methods on other marine animals without compromising human safety.

The controversial fisherman believes specialised teams should be on scene within an hour of shark attacks to kill the shark responsible.

"People survive because sharks will hesitate but when they have attacked once they have crossed the threshold and they won't hesitate again," he said.

"Police boats and helicopters are out there chasing the shark out to sea but the shark will return.

"That shark may never come into contact with humans again but if it does there will be another attack."

Vic Hislop in 2013 with a set of jaws from a 5.3m tiger shark caught off Point Vernon in 2012. Pictured outside his shark show on the Esplanade at Urangan. Photo: Alistair Brightman / Fraser Coast Chronicle
Vic Hislop in 2013 with a set of jaws from a 5.3m tiger shark caught off Point Vernon in 2012. Pictured outside his shark show on the Esplanade at Urangan. Photo: Alistair Brightman / Fraser Coast Chronicle


Mr Hislop spent many years travelling around Australia hunting sharks after attacks.

He is known in Hervey Bay as the long-time host of the now defunct Shark Show on the Urangan Esplanade.

"I would always go into the community and talk to people after an attack, especially the families of victims," he said.

"A lot of them stay in touch with me so I see how this affects people.

"Years later people still cry when they walk down the beach were it happened."

One attack that he remembers particularly well was in 1985 when Shirley Ann Durdin was killed in front of her four children in Peake Bay.



$50k project gives locals work, readies region for emergencies

Premium Content $50k project gives locals work, readies region for...

“We’ve had two tornado events, two flooding events and several bushfires”

Shocking neglect: Nursing home suffers nine fail govt audits

Premium Content Shocking neglect: Nursing home suffers nine fail govt audits

Aged care: Nine facilities fail audit as damning issues revealed