Sharks taking the bait as drum lines get big numbers
AN experienced local fishing identity says the decision to put drum lines back into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park has been justified after the release of latest catch figures.
A total of 40 sharks have been caught on drum lines off Townsville and Magnetic Island so far this year.
Two of those caught were tiger sharks between 3m and 4m off The Strand, while another two tiger sharks up to 4m were caught off Florence Bay and Horseshoe Bay.
A total of nine sharks have been caught off The Strand, with two of them being bull whalers, three spot-tail whalers, one common blacktip whaler and another tiger shark between 2m and 3m.
The State Government earlier this year announced it would put shark nets and drum lines back in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park after a spate of attacks at the Whitsundays.
It was a major backflip for the Government, which removed the drum lines from Gladstone to north of Cairns after a Federal Court Administrative Tribunal Decision last year.
"They (the drum lines) are certainly a psychological defence, that's for sure," local fishing identity Eddie Riddle said.
"People want to kayak, kitesurf and all that stuff, and we want to attract tourists to our region.
"I think any measure to protect the public against shark attacks is welcomed."
Mr Riddle expressed particular concern for the tiger sharks and bull whalers, otherwise known as bull sharks, off The Strand.
"That's amazing," he said.
"Tiger sharks are apex predators, they are at the top. There's nothing that attacks a tiger shark, I don't think.
"The bull sharks are the one that were responsible for those attacks in the Whitsundays.
"They're a very aggressive shark."
A total of 39 sharks were caught in 45 drum lines around Magnetic Island and off Pallarenda Beach between January and May last year, including 13 tiger sharks and seven bull sharks. The removal of drum lines last year was met with outrage by local fishers and tourism operators, including Riddle who operates a fishing charter business in local waters.
Last year the experienced angler said he had seen more sharks in the past five years than in the previous 25 years.
Mr Riddle is getting ready to return to business, but during his hiatus he says the problem has remained the same.
"I'm not surprised by these (latest) numbers," Mr Riddle said. "From what I have been hearing from recreational anglers lately, nothing's changed."
Originally published as Sharks taking the bait as drum lines get big numbers