Croc­o­diles: how about two sets of so­lu­tions?

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Scott Tib­balls

DEEP in the se­cond hour of the Croc­o­dile Man­age­ment Meet­ing in Port Dou­glas last week, re­sort owner Wendy Cross­man tried to get a clear an­swer on whether the De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Her­itage Pro­tec­tion thought tourists should go in the water in Far North Queens­land.

The re­sponse didn’t make her happy, with North­ern Wildlife Man­ager Michael Joyce say­ing yes.

“They started with the stance that peo­ple shouldn’t be in the water,” said Ms Cross­man, who when speak­ing to the Gazette later said that pro­pos­als to change crocwise sig­nage in the area to be more force­ful on keep­ing peo­ple away from the water as part of an ‘im­proved’ ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram would bleed away Port Dou­glas’ tourism in­dus­try.

“There can be no doubt that many of those peo­ple would look for other op­tions should we not be able to go in the water at Four Mile Beach.”

If Port Dou­glas faced a fu­ture without its beach, Ms Cross­man said re­sort prices would get softer, gaps be­tween stays would get longer, and visi­tors would stay for less time.

Pro­pos­als to change sig­nage to make the risk of croc­o­dile at­tacks more clear come off the back of a DEHP con­sul­ta­tion seek­ing in­put on how to im­prove the crocwise mes­sage – and ed­u­ca­tion is the an­gle the DEHP is go­ing for.

“I asked if (im­proved signs) were go­ing to say it’s safe to go on the beach but not in the water – and he (EHP rep­re­sen­ta­tive) looked at me with con­vic­tion and said yes, that is our in­ten­tion.

“It’s a fait ac­com­pli – they’re go­ing for a no-risk pol­icy when we pre­vi­ously had some level of risk be­ing in play.

“Maybe it’s right that we stop peo­ple go­ing in the water 365 days a year, but dur­ing the high sea­son it is danger­ous and very dam­ag­ing from an eco­nomic point of view.

“I think it will put peo­ple off – to what de­gree I can’t say.”

Ms Cross­man, who has spent 25 years in the in­dus­try went on to ex­plain that gen­er­ally, the sum­mer and win­ter sea­sons at­tracted two dif­fer­ent mar­kets of peo­ple – win­ter visi­tors (who bring in the most money) like to ap­pre­ci­ate the beach and re­lax, and sum­mer visi­tors want to ex­plore and dis­cover new things.

The two sea­sons also bring vastly dif­fer­ent con­di­tions on the beach – in win­ter croc­o­diles are not as ac­tive and un­likely to close Four Mile Beach ev­ery few days as they cruise past, and in sum­mer the beach is not overly at­trac­tive any­way due to stinger nets, highly ac­tive croc­o­diles and water that’s too warm to be re­fresh­ing.

Ms Cross­man said that be­cause of the dif­fer­ent con­di­tions through the year, and the dif­fer­ent mar­kets that the sea­sons at­tracted, any im­proved sig­nage should re­flect that, and not alarm win­ter tourists by warn­ing them to stay out of the water com­pletely.

“Ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple at the time of year they’re so ac­tive is es­sen­tial, (but) if there is no in­crease in risk on pre­vi­ous win­ters, then couldn’t we al­low busi­ness as nor­mal dur­ing the high pe­riod?”

There can be no doubt that many of those peo­ple would look for other op­tions should we not be able to go in the water at Four Mile Beach

Wendy Cross­man

Warn­ing sign at Four Mile Beach newly erected last week. In­set: Michael Joyce of EHP at the fo­rum

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.