A time-wast­ing talk­fest won’t scare the preda­tors away

The Courier-Mail - - NEWS - DR MARCELO KANCZUK

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.

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