Three of Queensland’s peak tourism bodies are calling on the state government to act on shark control, following an attack on two British tourists.
Tourism Whitsundays, Tourism Tropical North Queensland, and Queensland Tourism Industry Council have called for government action to control sharks in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, amid fears foreign tourists could be scared off.
This comes after two British tourists, Alistar Raddon and Danny Maggs, were attacked by a shark while snorkelling in Hook Passage.
In a joint statement, the trio of tourism bodies called on the “progressive implementation” of non-lethal alternatives, including SMART drumlines, deterrent devices, aerial surveillance and barriers, for the long term, to ensure foreign tourists do not fear for their safety in Queensland waters.
“Australia’s reputation as a safe destination is a critical competitive advantage for our destination,” they said.
“This reputation is not built on a claim that accidents cannot happen here but on an implied assurance we have in place appropriate precautionary measures for all circumstances and that we respond compassionately and professionally to any incident.”
They’re also calling on parties involved in decision making to tread carefully with coverage when articulating “conflicting views” on the issue.
“Any unnecessarily alarming publicity has the potential to further damage a perception-driven tourism industry,” Tourism Whitsundays, Tourism Tropical North Queensland, and Queensland Tourism Industry Council said in a combined statement.
The Queensland Government is calling on the Federal Government to pass laws allowing it to kill sharks in the reef. This follows the state being banned from killing sharks caught on drumlines after the practice was found to be ineffective.
In 2009, Humane Society International (Australia) challenged a decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) to allow the Queensland Government to continue to kill sharks along the Queensland coast as part of its longstanding lethal shark control program.
Following a review, the original decision in favour of the Queensland Government was overturned after the AAT found: “The lethal component of the SCP does not reduce the risk of unprovoked shark interactions”. It also cited evidence from Bond University’s Doctor Darryl McPhee that a non-lethal alternative to shark control would see “no discernible change in unprovoked shark bites, in particular, fatalities.”
As a result, state fisheries staff are now required to catch and release sharks.
The Queensland Government has called on Canberra to introduce laws to circumvent this decision, but the federal government has told them to use SMART drum lines, despite state fisheries authorities saying they didn’t work.
Speaking to the Courier-Mail, the Federal Government’s special envoy on the Great Barrier Reef, Warren Entsch, slammed Queensland Fisheries Minister Mark Furner.
“Let’s get out of the caveman period,” Entsch told the outlet. “Put [SMART drumlines] back in, stop the bloody fear campaign and let’s move into the 21st century.”
The trio of tourism bodies has stated they see “no impediment” to the state government re-installing previously removed drumlines while working with experts on trials of non-lethal shark management alternatives.
However, neither Tourism Whitsundays, Tourism Tropical North Queensland, or Queensland Tourism Industry Council support the proposed amendment of Federal Legislation governing the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.