The Queensland government won’t reintroduce drumlines to the Whitsundays after a third shark attack in Cid Harbour in two months.
A 33-year-old Victorian man was killed on Monday while stand-up paddle boarding during a holiday with nine other friends.
Tourism Minister Kate Jones ruled out drumlines on Tuesday on advice it could misinform tourists that it makes it safe.
“I would hate that the message got out that it was safe to swim in the Whitsundays when we can’t guarantee that safety,” Ms Jones said.
“Both the fisheries experts are saying there’s no need to install drumlines at this stage, that’s also the advice of the industry there.”
Instead, Ms Jones said temporary signs would be put up by the weekend and replaced with permanent signs within weeks.
Holidaymakers and boaties will be warned not to swim in the harbour under any circumstance.
“Neither the local mayor, Andrew Willcox, marine authorities nor local tourism operators want to see drumlines redeployed,” she said.
It comes just two months after a woman, 46, and girl, 12, were critically injured in separate attacks on consecutive days.
“We can’t be clearer – don’t swim in Cid Harbour,” Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said.
“Drumlines or not, no one should swim in Cid Harbour.”
He said the area is primarily for mooring, and the disposal of food scraps could attract sharks.
Drumlines are baited hooks that catch sharks and other marine life, which then die or are euthanised by fisheries officers.
They were temporarily rolled out in the area after the September attacks. Five tiger sharks and one small black tip was euthanised as a result.
Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mander earlier called for drumlines to be redeployed.
He said it was “quite unbelievable” there had been a sudden spate of attacks in the harbour.
“That’s the type of thing that needs to be looked at. Why has there been this number of shark attacks in this short period of time?” Mr Mander said.
“I haven’t heard of an incident of shark attacks happening so often anywhere in Queensland.”
There were three shark attacks in all of Queensland last year, according to Sydney’s Taronga Zoo’s Australian Shark Attack file.
Mr Mander said drumlines were needed to ensure the public feels confident to swim in the Whitsundays and protect tourism.
“Drum lines need to be reintroduced immediately in Cid Harbour so that people can have some assurance that they can enter the water safely.”
Conservationists say that gives swimmers a false sense of security.
“The knee-jerk culling of sharks [in September] at Cid Harbour was clearly not the answer. Lethal drum lines provide a false sense of security and are tremendously unpopular with the public,” Humane Society International said.
“Permanent and prominent signage and education to prevent swimming at Cid Harbour would have been much more effective.”
Drumlines operate on 85 of Queensland’s busiest beaches.
Shark expert Blake Chapman from the University of Queensland recommended against swimming at dawn or dusk when sharks feed.
“[Shark] education is so easy. It’s really easy. It’s really simple. It doesn’t cost a lot of money,” Dr Chapman said
“So instead of putting in a bunch of very expensive mitigation measures that make it look like the government is doing something, I think we need to focus on the actual problem – educating people and letting them make informed decisions.”
The marine biologist thinks there needs to be an investigation into the sudden increase in shark attacks in that particular area, saying “something has changed”.
Queensland Police Inspector Steve O’Connell said he’d never seen anything like it.
“I’ve been in the Whitsunday area on and off for 30 years and, apart from some minor nips and bites here and there over that period of time, I’ve never heard of any substantial attacks such as what we’ve seen in these three attacks,” Inspector O’Connell said on Tuesday.
The 33-year-old man was on a five-day sailing holiday, when he was bitten to his left thigh, right calf and left wrist about 5.30pm local time on Monday.
The species of shark is yet to be confirmed.