No bites in government’s shark specialist search

A SPECIALIST research project to study shark and human interactions in the wake of last year's Whitsundays attacks is dead in the water after the Palaszczuk Government turned down all seven applicants.

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries tendered for the work in late-September to find a team to analyse data including commercial shark catches, visitor statistics, shark interactions, and water temperature to better inform the Government's response to visitor safety in the popular tourism spot.

"In late-2018, three shark bite incidents, including one fatal incident, occurred in Cid Harbour in the Whitsundays region," the tender overview says.

"The Queensland Government is seeking proposals to provide data analysis and research services relating to shark and shark prey prevalence and human activities in the Whitsundays region using existing data sources."

Although seven submissions were received, all offers were declined.

Acting Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Minister Anthony Lynham said no offers were suitable.

"The offers received did not meet the Government's needs," he said. "The Queensland Government is investigating other options to deliver this analysis. A comprehensive program must revolve around robust science."

A tiger shark is one of the main predators lurking off the Whitsundays.
A tiger shark is one of the main predators lurking off the Whitsundays.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington questioned how not one tender was acceptable.

"Knocking back seven offers for scientific research in an area prone to deadly shark attacks proves swimmer safety is not a priority for Labor," she said. "(Fisheries Minister) Mark Furner has proved incapable of delivering solutions to improve safety and Annastacia Palaszczuk should dismiss him from the job."

She said the LNP had announced "practical steps to deliver a modern shark-control program", including aerial surveillance and the trial of SMART drum lines in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Tourism Minister Kate Jones will meet industry representatives on the Sunshine Coast today.