Geoff Philp from Airlie Bait and Tackle says drum lines are too redneck. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Geoff Philp from Airlie Bait and Tackle says drum lines are too redneck. Picture: Nigel Hallett

Local traders’ answer to shark menace

AIRLIE Beach businesses are concerned about the impact of shark attacks, with some tourists too scared to enter the water.

But they fear aggressive countermeasures such as drum lines will cast the Whitsundays as a redneck wonderland.

Instead, they are pushing for more education for tourists around shark behaviour.

Local plumber Matt Neal claims the string of attacks will harm the Whitsundays' economy.

"I think we need to be careful to be seen as responding sensitively, we can't have a knee-jerk reaction," he said.

"Queensland is already seen as a bit redneck; I don't think we should contribute to that."

Airlie Bait and Tackle's Geoff Philp said the attacks had locals in disbelief.

"A mate nearly had his arm bitten off, but he was holding a fish," he said.

"A backpacker jumped off a yacht almost on to a shark's back, and it bit him like a dog would.

"But nothing like this, you know - a full-on attack."

Despite having three shark jawbones hanging in his shop, Mr Philp said he didn't believe in drum lines because they killed "innocent fish".

Whitsunday Seafood Bar owner Chris O'Rielly said bareboat charters must properly educate their customers.

"They need to say, 'Have a swim at Whitehaven Beach or wherever, but certainly not Cid Harbour'," he said.

Travel agency owner Dianne Docherty said business was quiet and tourists were asking about the dangers.

"After 30 years of saying the same thing now we've have to include something about sharks," she said.

"One woman came in and said she wasn't going to go in the water."

German tourists Lisa Breitsprecher and Greg Bienkowski admitted to having second thoughts about entering the ocean on their Whitsundays holiday.

"We want to see the Whitsundays - we might not go swimming, but we can see the landscape," Ms Breitsprecher said.

"It's a very bad situation."