As tourism and business leaders gather for crisis meetings over the Whitsundays shark attacks, a North Queensland MP is calling for the animals to be culled.
Federal MP Keith Pitt says the shark population is out of control but opponents say education is the answer.
It’s been a tragic two months in the Whitsundays with three attacks, one death and growing concern.
Now law-makers have their sights set on sharks.
“The shark numbers are completely out of control,” MP Pitt, who lives 800km south of the Whitsundays, said while revealing his solution to the state’s shark crisis.
“The time for talk has finished, this is a problem which has been building for years.
“I don’t see any reason why we can’t get some positive out of what is an absolutely tragic story and the loss of another Australian life”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said suggestions were welcome on how to address the issue.
“Keith is the local member. As a local member I would expect him to be expressing his views on how he thought this issue should be managed,” Mr Morrison said.
The state government has rejected the idea of a cull, but will be open to other suggestions at a shark summit in Airlie Beach on Friday.
“Why does the Whitsundays not have a shark control program?” Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington asked on Thursday.
Yet Tourist Minister Kate Jones was defiant over the government’s protocol.
“What the tourism industry does not want is knee-jerk reactions,” she said.
The goal for Queensland is to find a way to manage the predator problem in a region where ongoing attacks would have devastating impacts.
“We just hope we can keep inspiring people to visit one of the best destinations in the world,” Tourism Whitsundays CEO Natassia Wheeler said.
It remains to be seen what, if any, measures come as a result of the shark summit.
The local Chamber of Commerce is concerned the government may place more regulations on the charter yacht industry and, in their words, “kill the freedom and magic” of skippering your own boat around the waters.
For now, boats and people continue to leave for the Whitsundays with awareness as their best defence.
Friday’s meeting is expected to provide a commitment to conduct research into the shark population in the Whitsundays and how to increase awareness.
It will be a mainly closed-door meeting between invited local tourism operators, local government and marine experts.
The meeting is not open to the public, which has upset some locals who have a lot to say during a difficult time for the region.