Commercial fisherman Ron Brennan and Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan examine nets damaged by sharks in Repulse Bay. The local MP has called for the shark control program to be adopted in this region.
Commercial fisherman Ron Brennan and Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan examine nets damaged by sharks in Repulse Bay. The local MP has called for the shark control program to be adopted in this region.

Costigan calls for permanent protections from sharks

MEMBER for Whitsunday Jason Costigan has called for the state's shark control program to be put in place throughout this region.

In the wake of last week's shark attacks on Tasmanian Justine Barwick, 46 and Victorian schoolgirl Hannah Papps, Mr Costigan said the time had come for the permanent introduction of the program in the Whitsundays.

"If it is good enough for the rest of Queensland to have permanent shark protections in place, why not the Whitsundays," he told the Whitsunday Times.

"With our significant coastal population in towns such as Airlie Beach and Cannonvale, not to mention the high amount of tourists that visit each year, the time has come for permanent shark protections.

"Cairns has them through to the Northern Beaches, Townsville has them at The Strand and Pallarenda, Mackay in my own electorate has anti-shark defences, the Capricorn Coast, Bundaberg and Bargara, the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast."

Mr Costigan recalled the SCP was first developed following an attack off Mackay in the 1960s and been a permanent fixture since.

"This program crosses the political divide and has been maintained, expanded and stepped up throughout the years, but for some reason the Whitsundays has missed out," he said.

"Maybe it was because Airlie Beach was a one-turtle town for a long time, but that's not the case any more.

"Sea level protection of locals and tourists is essential in the Whitsundays.

"We've never had a fatal shark attack, but we don't want to be continuing to take our chances.

"You don't want to play a cat and mouse game with a shark."

The SCP relies on nets or drumlines, or a combination of both, to minimise the threat of shark attack on humans.

It is not designed to provide a distinct barrier between sharks and humans.

One of the main charters of the SCP is its importance to reduce the inadvertent impacts on other main animals (bycatch) without compromising human safety.

Bycatch levels are carefully monitored and research is focused on minimising impacts on non-target species.

Drum lines were installed in Cid Harbour following last week's attacks with six sharks (five Tiger, one black tip) destroyed after being caught by Fisheries Queensland officials in recent days, but how long they remain in place is uncertain.

Mr Costigan said the past week's events again illustrated the importance of the RACQ CQ Rescue Helicopter Service and highlighted the necessity of a second paramedic at Hamilton Island, as he asked the Health Minister in Parliament back in June.


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