SLEEPLESS OVER TOOTHY TERROR
A time-wasting talkfest won’t scare the predators away
have somewhere to stay, or have something to eat, they’re things that seem simple but when a trauma happens can be very difficult to manage,” she said.
Emergency department senior medical officer Dr Andrew Giles said all three vic- tims were major bleeding traumas and put in the highest classification of “red trauma”.
Emergency nurse Amy Takagaki said communication between the teams treating the victims was challenging.
“It was the first time, for a lot of people, coming into con- tact with a trauma like that, but the hospital has been very supportive of all of us,” she said.
“After anything of this significance it’s kind of difficult ... but you can always rely on your co-workers for support and ... have a chat with them.”
T HE state’s most experienced master fisherman warned Fisheries Minister Mark Furner of the emergence of a deadly shark threat in a letter last January – months before the recent attacks.
John Reid says his letter was ignored.
“He didn’t reply,” says Reid. “He didn’t ring up. No one contacted me. Silence! I put them on notice and got nothing but silence.”
It wasn’t the first time Reid had spoken out. He warned of the dangers time and again in explicit logbook entries that he was obliged to write for the State Government as a commercial fisherman.
Reid, 81, who hauled his first shark aboard at Cape Moreton when he was 18, is furious.
He blames government indifference and misguided environmental zealotry for the exponential rise in the number of tiger sharks, white pointers, bronze whalers, black whalers, bull sharks, hammerheads and grey nurse sharks.
Groups of eight or nine sharks frequently circle under his fishing boat just four nautical miles off the Sunshine Coast. It’s the same story off Townsville and other fishing centres along the coast.
“In the past five years, the number of sharks has doubled in each of those years,” he says. “It’s been extraordinary. They are so prolific.”
Reid makes no apologies for blaming recent shark attacks on green politics and the rise of environmental concerns for the predators.
He believes a succession of Labor premiers, starting with actions by Wayne Goss in 1994, unintentionally helped shark populations grow by curtailing netting and extending no-go green zones.
Reid, a Brisbane Grammar old boy who started his working life as an
electrician, says the opposition to netting and drum-line baiting is irrational and exposes swimmers to enormous dangers.
In his letter to Furner, Reid wrote: “As a matter of urgency something should be done to address this problem.”
Reid says comments this week by Tourism Minister Kate Jones show the State Government doesn’t understand the enormity of the problem that is a threat to tourism and the livelihoods of those who catch fish.
He says Jones and Furner are “dithering”. And he is right.
A time-wasting talkfest or a fivepoint plan will not scare the sharks away.
The state does not need another inquiry, says Reid. The information on shark numbers is already there in the commercial fishers’ official logbooks. And Queenslanders do not need any more lectures from academics who put marine life ahead of human life.
If only someone in the State Government had read Reid’s prophetic logbook entry of March 14, 2011.
“I wish to report that during the last seven days I have experienced shark activity in the waters off Mooloolaba like I have never experienced before,” he wrote.
“In three fishing days I lost 11 Spanish mackerel – all bitten off behind the head.” Some were 17kg. “The bite marks on what is left of the fish indicate they are very large predators.
“Would you please pass this information on to those in your department who say the poor sharks are becoming extinct?
“The situation will ultimately end up in more coastal shark fatalities if they are not culled.”
Jason Costigan, the Member for Whitsunday, this week accused the Government of having blood on its hands after a young doctor died when he was horribly mauled at Cid Harbour.
Skipper Carlo Marchese from Adventure Fishing Charters at Mooloolaba says Reid is right.
“The sharks are now in plague proportions off the Sunshine Coast,” he says. “The numbers are just ridiculous.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we had an attack here this summer.”
Guests on one cruise this week saw a shark snap at a large bluefin tuna being hauled aboard. Only its head was left.
The government of Mike Ahern introduced compulsory logbooks in 1989. But Reid says the commercial fishing industry has been overregulated after changes by the Goss government and following the Tom Burns inquiry in 1992.
More restrictions came with the Beattie and Bligh governments.
The Newman LNP government began an inquiry to lift restrictions on fishing in 2014 but was swept from office before any changes could be made.
However, the screws were tightened again when the Palaszczuk Government took office. Reid says net licence numbers fell by 1200 to 170 in recent years.
Labor governments have made 53 changes to regulations since 1989. The new rules disadvantaged fishermen, but were of great assistance to sharks.
Reid admits the problem is a long time in the making and will not be solved overnight.
He says a solution may be the commercialisation of shark products.
Victorians are especially enamoured of shark meat, or flake, while the fins are prized in Chinese cuisine. Even shark skin can be harvested for a kind of marine leather. Reid proposes a two-year cull. “We have to do it before more people are taken,” he says.
“They can’t ignore this, but they are scared to do anything because they do not want to upset the bloody Greens.”
Meanwhile, if sharks continue to steal the commercial catch there will be fewer fish available for Australians.
That means more imports from Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and China, where there are few, if any, catch restrictions.
And Reid warns that some overseas countries have dubious seafood handling practices.
The situation will ultimately end up in more coastal shark fatalities if they are not culled Master fisherman John Reid
SHARK SQUAD: (From left) Mackay Base Hospital ED nurse Amy Takagaki, anaesthetic consultant Dr Marcelo Kanczuk, ICU director Dr Stuart Baker, social worker Tracy Good and ED senior medical officer Dr Andrew Giles. Picture: Daryl Wright
KILLER CATCHES: (clockwise from main) the remains of a bluefin tuna savaged this week; John Reid; sharks off Cape Moreton, where Reid caught his first 63 years ago.