Shark control stoush ahead of school holidays rush
THE Labor Government and the LNP are squaring off over shark control in Queensland after two fatal maulings and a string of frightening run-ins on the Gold Coast and Tweed.
It comes as the Gold Coast prepares to mark the first day of school holidays on Saturday, when it's expected Queenslanders holidaying at home will flock to city beaches.
A string of sightings and close encounters with sharks between 3-5m long have emerged from across the Coast and Tweed in recent days, at Burleigh, Tallebudgera Creek and Cabarita.
Miami surfer Nick Slater was fatally mauled at Greenmount Beach last Tuesday, the first attack on the Coast in more than 60 years, while Tugun surfer Rob Pedretti was killed at Salt Beach near Kingscliff on June 7.
At the centre of the political battle over the best ways to protect swimmers, surfers and other beachgoers is the review into the Queensland Shark Control Program.
LNP Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said Labor has not implemented recommendations after they were released a year ago.
But Fisheries Minister Mark Furner pointed out drones are already in the air, as recommended.
He was expected to meet with the Shark Control Scientific Working Group today.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said Gold Coasters deserve action.
"Labor are putting swimmers and tourism jobs at risk by failing to implement the recommendations of the review into Queensland's shark control program," she said.
"These recommendations were made a year ago and should have already been implemented by Labor to ensure Queenslanders are as safe as possible in the water.
"Drones, aerial surveillance and SMART (Shark-Management-Alert-in-Real-Time) drumlines were recommended by the review, but Labor has failed to act."
Ms Frecklington said the state's shark program should be monitored "constantly" to make sure it is properly resourced and protecting beachgoers.
"The priority always needs to be swimmer safety and protecting local tourism jobs, promoting Queensland as a safe place," she said.
"The LNP supports more drumlines, including SMART drumlines and aerial surveillance using drones to improve safety as part of a modern shark control program."
Mr Furner said the government has spent months working with Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) to trial drones, which would be in the air across southeast beaches this weekend.
He said pilots from SLSQ will fly drones every weekend, public holiday and every day during school holidays until November, subject to weather and wind conditions.
The trial includes Main Beach and Burleigh Beach on the Coast.
No beaches have been closed in recent days, but Gold Coast City Council is urging beachgoers to be hyper-vigilant.
Mayor Donna Gates said: "All beaches will be patrolled by either City lifeguards or SLSQ volunteers and our aerial chopper and drone surveillance will continue throughout the holidays."
She urged beachgoers to "exercise a heightened level of caution".
Originally published as Shark control stoush ahead of school holidays rush