Federal member for Hinkler Keith Pitt.
Federal member for Hinkler Keith Pitt. Alistair Brightman

WATCH: Pitt calls for end to predator plague

KEITH Pitt's calls for an open season on sharks are falling on deaf ears as the Queensland Government refuses to consider a shark cull.

The Hinkler MP expressed his call for shark hunting at Urangan yesterday, spurned on by Monday's fatal shark attack at the Whitsundays.

Appealing to the public, Mr Pitt said he valued human life above all else when sharks were at "plague" proportions.

When questioned, Mr Pitt cited his claims on the basis of first-hand accounts of shark numbers by local fishermen.

"They are an apex predator and we should thin them out," he told Newscorp.

The former assistant trade and tourism minister said that as well as rolling out more shark nets and drumlines, there needs to be a shark cull.

"The cull as well as setting drumlines and nets will create jobs in the fishing industry, and lower the danger of attacks," he said.

The shark cull rhetoric comes after the State Government announced a shark "roundtable" talkfest.

Mr Pitt urged for contractors to be given an open permit to hunt the sea creatures initially without limit.

He said this would eventually be scaled back with limits once the shark population declined.

But Fisheries Minister Mark Furner categorically ruled out a cull as an option.

"There is no science to support calls for an indiscriminate shark cull," Mr Furner told the Chronicle.

"There would also be no guarantees of swimmer safety if a shark cull was undertaken.

"There is always, and there will always be, sharks in the oceans. The best advice we have is don't swim in Cid Harbour."

Mr Furner continued to reiterate drumlines were not an effective long-term solution due to the large supply of baitfish in the area.

However Mr Pitt's stance was echoed by Hervey Bay fisherman and employee of Boat Harbour Fisheries, Michael Russo, who said Mr Pitt was "right on the money".

"Bottom fisherman in particular are really suffering bringing in their hauls as the sharks are eating all the fish," he said.

"I went out to Swain Reef in the Coral Sea the other day and I have never in my life seen so many sharks.

"I understand the need to protect wildlife but these are plague level numbers."

"What I am experiencing is not unique. Any fisherman along the east coast will agree with me, be it professional or amateur."

Mr Russo explained the tides had changed figuratively for shark numbers since the introduction of strict fisheries regulations.

"What used to happen is we could catch them and eat them but this has changed over the last ten years," he said.

"Every fisherman used to have a 's' on his licence to fish sharks but then it changed to having to apply for the 's'.

"Now the regulations are so strict you have to ring and report to fisheries if you have a shark on board, then fisheries meet you at the boat ramp and you have to tell them exactly what species it is for them to inspect. But sometimes fisheries sometimes make them wait for an hour so people just stopped catching them.

"I agree with Keith Pitt, people need to be allowed to catch sharks again to cull their numbers and stop them following boats and eating catch."



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