Australia

Drum lines, net checked hours before fatal Gold Coast shark attack

The eight drum lines and shark net off Greenmount Beach were checked hours before the fatal attack that killed a Gold Coast surfer, as the divisive shark control program is again called into question. Queensland Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Mark Furner told parliament on Wednesday morning the shark protection equipment at the popular surf beach…

The eight drum lines and shark net off Greenmount Beach were checked hours before the fatal attack that killed a Gold Coast surfer, as the divisive shark control program is again called into question.

Queensland Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Mark Furner told parliament on Wednesday morning the shark protection equipment at the popular surf beach had been in place for decades.

“These were checked yesterday morning, as they are on a regular basis,” he said.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in a statement she believed the shark control program “has been saving lives for generations”.

“If improvements can be made then, of course, they should be,” she said.

“But the ultimate goal has to be protecting human life.”

The death of Nick Slater has reignited debate over the controversial shark protection program, which has been in place on the Gold Coast’s 70km coastline since 1962.

Mr Slater was bitten by what experts believe was a 3.5m great white shark shortly after 5pm yesterday.

He suffered horrific injuries to his leg, and despite the efforts of fellow surfers, lifesavers and paramedics he was pronounced dead on the beach.

The last fatal shark attack on the Gold Coast was in 1958, when Peter Gerard Spronk was killed 250m off Surfers Paradise on November 23.

Jade Parker was about to head out for a surf on Tuesday afternoon when he spotted the man from the beach and tried to save him, and said he would like to see the horrific accident trigger something more be done.

“I would like to see what manufacturers can do for some protection built into wetsuits, some shark bite protection perhaps,” he told Channel 7 Sunrise on Wednesday morning.

“I know there are devices out there that do deter sharks and I do not know how effective they are … any help is better than nothing I guess.”

Debate over the Queensland shark control program has raged for almost 50 years, over fears other marine animals would become entangled in the nets.

All beaches remain closed as lifesavers patrol the waters on jetski and the Westpac helicopter surveys the coastline for the shark.

It comes as Sky News reports a tiger shark was caught in a net off the coastline, but authorities do not believe it was the killer.

Speaking on Wednesday morning, Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate said beaches between Burleigh and the New South Wales border would remain closed and that he would look to find answers.

“Once we know the shark is not in the vicinity or we have tracked it, then the beach will be reopened,” he said.

“A 60 year gap between (fatal) incidents has been pretty good, considering we have 70km of beaches.

“I think from memory the shark nets and hooks lines haven’t been changed and the shark nets (in that area) haven’t been relocated …

“But maybe … there’s sonic solutions that can do better and we’ll look at that.

“Give us a week and we’ll sort out more details.”

Cr Tate said the reality was there were higher fatality “in other things in life than a shark attack.”

“Together with Minister Furner I’ll be analysing what is the best remedy … let’s be guided by the experts,” he said.

“We can come up with the best solution for our beaches. One of the options might be to continue with our current solution (of drum lines and shark nets) … make sure it’s up to scratch.”

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