Queensland gets smart with sharks | Noosa today

By Phil Jarratt

Often criticized by southern states for falling behind in modern shark mitigation and deterrent technology, Queensland kicked a serious punch early last summer with the introduction of a new management plan Sharks.

After more than 60 years of almost total reliance on outdated shark nets and drums, the new plan encompasses a wide range of new technologies like drones and smart drums, as well as a new approach to outreach programs and education that emphasizes that sharks are not the enemy – when we go to the ocean, we share their space.

Advance scouts for this new strategy, dubbed SharkSmart Qld, arrived in Noosa last week for a focused education workshop hosted by the Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation, the idea being to have a two-way conversation with marine stakeholders and ocean user groups on location SharkSmart key messages.

A Fisheries Queensland spokesperson picks up the story:

“Fisheries Queensland’s Shark Control Program is working with the Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation to implement targeted SharkSmart education in the Noosa area.

“Targeted education initiatives, centered on surfers and adapted to local conditions, will be developed. The first project workshop was held on Friday 25th March with representatives from Fisheries Queensland, NBRF, Noosa Council, Noosa World Surfing Reserve, Surf Life Saving Queensland, Noosa Surf Life Saving Club and North Shore Boardriders. Workshop participants discussed ways to share local knowledge and the latest scientific evidence on shark behaviors, to help educate surfers about local conditions and shark risk.

So that’s the official version, for now, but in fact it was a much more interesting meeting than it suggests, with locals involved in surf sports and surf rescue sharing information and insights with those at the forefront of a new science and nature-based shark mitigation strategy.

And let’s face it, SharkSmart is a tough sell in Noosa where there hasn’t been a fatal shark attack since 1961 when dental student and Brisbane surfer John Grayson Andrews had his left leg ripped off and left arm, apparently by a bronze whaler although more recent migratory information seems to contradict this.

Had that happened today the young surfer certainly wouldn’t have died, but at the time he never recovered from the blood loss and died in a hospital in Brisbane days later.

The pub version of the above is that it was 60 years ago and he shouldn’t have died, so Noosa doesn’t have a shark problem. But of course, as any local surfer, swimmer or lifeguard can tell you.

One of SharkSmart’s key messages is not to instill fear, but to promote greater awareness and reduce risk accordingly. in Noosa while education manager Fiona Burnett joined remotely.

A key point that emerged early was that SharkSmart’s targeted messages for surfers weren’t going to wash up, advising that surfers should only enjoy their passion where lifeguards could see them, avoid dawn sessions and at dusk and never surf near rock ledges.

But this is where it got interesting because rather than dictating a one-size-fits-all “government” approach, the folks at SharkSmart took it on board and asked more about alternative ideas.

They shared recent research on shark attack attitudes that divided the ocean population into four categories – fearful believers, in between, positive preventers, and she’ll be right.

While the majority were believers or somewhere in between, it’s no surprise that the vast majority of those who identified as surfers are positive preventers or will be rectifiers.

Both as a representative of surfers at the workshop and as a journalist, I was impressed with how SharkSmart uses research models to inform its approach to raising awareness of the sharks among us rather than engendering a culture of fear.

And beyond that, the technological approach currently being piloted by the Shark Control Program offers new hope to marine conservationists that they will finally see the end of old-fashioned nets and drumline orthodoxy. who killed turtles and other sea life regularly. basis for more than half a century.

This is a good start for Fisheries Queensland.

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