Drones to watch Whitsundays sharks under LNP Govt

A FRECKLINGTON Government would send up drones over the Whitsundays to spot for sharks in the LNP's latest commitment to address tourist safety.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington promised to partner with James Cook University to deliver the technology a week after the tourism mecca saw its fifth shark attack in a year and a day after a coalition of tourism bosses demanded trials in an open letter to politicians.

It comes as scientists meet with the tourism industry to discuss shark control measures in the Whitsundays the wake of their extraordinary joint plea for political point scoring to give way to action.

 

Queensland’s tourism industry have called for extra shark protection measures.
Queensland’s tourism industry have called for extra shark protection measures.

"The LNP will deliver a modern shark control program to protect swimmers and the thousands of jobs that depend on a strong local tourism industry," Ms Frecklington said during a visit to Airlie Beach.

"Tourism experts are united on the need for a shark control program and the LNP will deliver solutions to protect both swimmers and tourism jobs.

"The Whitsundays will be a priority-area for the aerial surveillance program, which is on top of the LNP's commitment to trial SMART drum lines."

Ms Frecklington's announcement follows an LNP commitment to spend $15 million over three years for SMART drum lines, which alert authorities when a shark is caught so that it may be released and relocated.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington has promised to partner with James Cook University to deliver drone surveillance in the Whitsundays. Picture: Annette Dew
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington has promised to partner with James Cook University to deliver drone surveillance in the Whitsundays. Picture: Annette Dew

The Government, which does not support using SMART drum lines, has said it has already received two independent reports signalling they won't work and would cost around $40 million a year to operate.

The industry has also requested netted swimming spots, SMART drum lines and shark deterrent devices trialled across the Whitsundays to ensure tourists are not scared off by a spate of recent shark attacks.

 

 

Tourism Minister Kate Jones said she would be talking to industry experts tonight after hearing their message "loud and clear".

She has previously said the Government will investigate aerial surveillance, but flagged it would likely be expensive.

 

Whitsunday Island, Cid Harbour, where three of five recent shark attacks haven taken place. Picture: Daryl Wright
Whitsunday Island, Cid Harbour, where three of five recent shark attacks haven taken place. Picture: Daryl Wright

"Today I know that Tourism Whitsundays will be sitting down with scientists that we have engaged since the beginning of the year to go through each of the requests that they have outlined," she said.

"They will work through that to see what is feasible and what is not feasible.

"We will await that advice.

"I have already committed to talking to Tourism Whitsundays tonight after they have had that meeting late this afternoon.

"But we hear the message loud and clear."

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner icture: AAP Image/James Ross
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner icture: AAP Image/James Ross

Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said the State had been trying to work collaboratively with the Commonwealth on the future of shark control measures in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park area.

But he could not give any timelines on when other solutions could be brought in should the Commonwealth not change the law to allow lethal shark control measures once more.