Beachgoers sabotaging shark bait hooks on Coast
BAITED hooks are being stripped from shark control drum lines off Sunshine Coast beaches by people who officials say are endangering themselves and beach users.
Fisheries Queensland is investigating the raids on 18 drumlines at Yaroomba and Currimundi over a number of weeks from mid-April through to May 7, when the last attack occurred.
Queensland Shark Control program manager Jeff Krause said the motive was uncertain, but there was no doubt the acts were deliberate and highly co-ordinated.
Mr Krause said he had been sent YouTube vision earlier this year by one group that wanted to disrupt the shark control program.
Similar incidents occurred at Yaroomba during October and November last year.
The hooks had been attached to a chain trace by a D shackle and would have required pliers to release tightly secured bolts.
Drumlines are checked every second day depending on sea conditions.
Mr Krause said the Sunshine Coast shark control program contractor believed the attacks were occurring just before dawn or early evening.
Boating patrol staff were becoming more active in the affected areas and the contractor was recording details of all marine craft seen in the areas where the incidents occurred.
Drumlines at Yaroomba and Currimundi have been interfered with four times. Those affected at Yaroomba include drumlines off Palmer Coolum Resort and at the surfing beach to its north.
"It appears that someone, or a number of people, have purposely gone out to the drumlines with the intention of removing the hooks," Mr Krause said.
"This is very dangerous and illegal, and compromises the effectiveness of the shark control program, putting lives at risk.
"The baited hooks are an important part of the program, and if there is a shark in the area, its senses are focused on the baited hook and not swimmers."
Interference with the equipment carries an on-the-spot fine of $1100 and a maximum fine of $55,000.
Mr Krause has asked that anyone who sees any interference with the shark control gear to phone the Fishwatch Hotline on 1800 017 116, which operates 24 hours per day.