Where are sharks? asks diver, as drum lines push slammed
DIVERS have slammed claims by Surf Life Saving Queensland that the Mooloolah River mouth required baited drum lines because of the shark risk to people swimming on nearby beaches, describing them as "ignorance in its most glorious form".
In a submission to the Senate Inquiry into the "The efficacy and regulation of shark mitigation and deterrent measures" Surf Life Saving Queensland said it would like to see the shark control program expanded.
It nominated as "popular high-risk locations" Tallebudgera Creek, Paynter River and Mooloolah River, saying they were "where sharks are known to frequent".
Gary Cox, of the dive group Nudibranch Central, wonders what all the fuss is about.
He and a group of four to six have dived the river regularly for the past three years from La Balsa Park.
Three to five times a week for between two to three hours at a time Mr Cox and his friends lie on the bottom of the river looking for the delightful and colourful marine creatures known as nudibranch.
In that time he has identified 180 species of nudibranch, 90 of which are unique to the river system.
What he's never seen is a shark and that goes for the 3000 dives he estimates he and three of his buddies have done across the Sunshine Coast both from the shore at La Balsa and the Kings Beach boat ramp and offshore from their boats.
Mr Cox said recreational users of the river could be seen snorkelling and spear fishing outside the river mouth while young mothers with children regularly swim off the beach at La Balsa Park.
DiveCareDare tourism operator Tony Isaacson was scathing of the SLSQ submission.
"Drum lines are not the way to go," Mr Isaacson said.
"This is ignorance in its most glorious form."
He is more concerned about the potential for a bull shark attack in Lake Kawana during an international sporting event at a time the water was murky with grey skies above - ideal conditions to trigger a bump and bite response from the animals.
Mr Isaacson is advocating a soft trial of Clever Buoy technology to see if its sonar array reduced drum-line catches and at the same time drove the animals away from popular beaches.
He says humans need to moderate their behaviour to avoid risk at places and times sharks were known to be present and to make informed choices around when they entered the water.
Mr Isaacson said a successful trial at Sydney's Bondi Beach had determined sharks there were at their most prevalent from sunset to 8pm and from 2am to sunrise with almost no shark activity during patrol hours.
He says non-target species are being treated like collateral damage, a view re-enforced by statistics presented to the Senate by Dr Peter Kerkenezov, a veterinary surgeon who is also a ship's master and occupational diver.
Dr Kerkenezov says since nets and drum lines were first introduced around 1930 they have killed tens of thousands of marine animals and driven many to near extinction.
"Since 1962 the Queensland Shark Control Program has been responsible for the mass capture of 84,800 marine animals including whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles, manta rays, and dugongs," he said.
The kill includes 26,519 non-shark species, 58 humpback whales and more than 15,000 rays.
Mr Isaacson nominates Rainbow Beach, which has a high drum-line kill rate, for a soft trial of the Clever Buoy-style technology.