Professor Jamie Seymour from the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University said there wasn’t enough research into jellyfish behaviours in the Whitsundays to make a call on the effectiveness of nets.
Professor Jamie Seymour from the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University said there wasn’t enough research into jellyfish behaviours in the Whitsundays to make a call on the effectiveness of nets.

Expert weighs in on Whitsunday stinger nets

A TOXINOLOGIST has weighed in on the stinger net debate in the Whitsundays, saying there is not enough information to determine whether the nets are effective in the region.

Whitsunday councillors voted unanimously to keep stinger nets at Cannonvale and Boathaven beach in place until June 30, two months beyond their original date for removal.

During the discussion at this week's council meeting, Division 6 councillor Mike Brunker and Division 2 councillor Al Grundy raised questions about the effectiveness of the nets.

Cr Brunker also questioned whether nets would be reinstalled in Bowen.

However, Professor Jamie Seymour from the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University said there wasn't enough research into jellyfish behaviours in the Whitsundays to make a call on the effectiveness of nets.

"We don't have good data for (the Whitsundays) because we haven't done the research," he said.

"We would be there with bells on tomorrow if we had the funding to do it."

 

A jellyfish warning sign in Airlie Beach.
A jellyfish warning sign in Airlie Beach.

 

Mr Seymour said one of the main challenges for installing nets in the Whitsundays was the tides.

"The major reasons for not putting stinger nets down there is that you have very big tides and it makes it almost impossible to use in certain places," he said.

"In the grand scheme of things, I don't think stinger nets or ordinary enclosures would work (for the Whitsundays) because of the big tides.

"You'd be far better off spending some time researching what was going on and doing regular drags … and coming up with some sort of model that would let you predict when the animals are going to be there.

"I still don't know what the best option is for down there and that's because we just don't have the information. You can't make calls on what will and won't work when you don't know what the animals are going to do."

The stinger nets in the region are supplied and serviced by Uninet.

In the 2015-16 council capital works budget, $25,000 was budgeted for the net installation at Horseshoe Bay in Bowen.

Division 2 councillor Al Grundy said there would be a community consultation on stinger nets to gauge public opinion on the nets.

"The community can then make a decision on a cost benefit analysis," he said.

"If there's enough people who want to use the enclosures I would say we should continue to do it as long as we're very clear to say to people that just because there's an enclosure you still need to mitigate your own risk," he said.

"If anyone was going to get in the water in those current enclosures, and I think council still recommends this, that people wear a marine stinger suit anyway."



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