State Govt pledge $250k for shark research
THE STATE government has today pledged $250,000 as part of a five-point plan to improve water safety in the Whitsundays.
The plan is headed by scientific research into shark prevalence and behaviour at Cid Harbour, then underpinned by:
Maintaining Cid Harbour as a no-swim zone until that assessment is complete;
A high-profile education campaign to immediately educate locals and visitors about shark safety;
Development of a broader sharkwise education campaign, similar to the successful crocwise campaign running in North Queensland;
And to continue to meet with industry stakeholders and experts to develop and progress responses.
The plan was developed during a roundtable discussion held at Abell Point Marina in response to the Cid Harbour shark attacks.
As part of the education campaign, there are now 70 warning signs and marine marker buoys in Cid Harbour advising locals and tourists against swimming in the area.
Melbourne doctor Dan Christidis died after being mauled on Monday, seven weeks following the attacks on Tasmanian woman Justine Barwick and Melbourne schoolgirl Hannah Papps.
Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones and Fisheries Minister Mark Furner joined Whitsunday Regional Council, local tourism leaders and operators, shark experts and scientists at the meeting, which went for about two hours.
Ms Jones confirmed that drumlines would not be used in the Whitsundays.
"They (GBRMPA) clearly said they would not approve the use of shark nets or drum lines, working within the legislative framework here in Queensland,” she said.
"They want scientific research done in Cid Harbour.”
Mr Furner said there were 86 combined drumlines and nets in Queensland waters, adding they represented only 0.1 per cent of the total coastline, and mostly located in areas with patrolled beaches.
He said drumlines would not work at Cid Harbour in the long-term due to its location.
"Cid Harbour is a fair distance from the mainland and that is why it won't work on a sustainable basis,” he said.
Ms Jones said the scientific research project, which will commence on Monday, was a direct request from Whitsunday tourism operators.
"They know these waters and they are telling us they think that something has changed. They want to get to the bottom of that,” she said.
Ms Jones added local businesses wanted long-term solutions around safety and that she was concerned about the message the use of drumlines would send to people.
"We know you can put drumlines out there, but I still can't look someone in the eye and guarantee them it would be safe to swim in Cid Harbour,” she said.