Renewed calls for Port Augusta shark investigations

SHARK: A screenshot from a video last year when a White Shark appeared behind a Port Augusta man's fishing boat. Such scenes are disturbing.
SHARK: A screenshot from a video last year when a White Shark appeared behind a Port Augusta man's fishing boat. Such scenes are disturbing.

People fishing for likes and retweets on social media with videos of their encounters with Great White Sharks in Port Augusta waters have caused the local community concern.

And state Member for Stuart Dan van Holst Pellekaan is frustrated about the correspondence he received by state Minister for Fisheries Leon Bignell on the issue.

Mr van Holst Pellekaan wanted to know whether there are more sharks in Port Augusta waters or whether the increase of mobile phones and social media makes people believe so.

In a letter received in May, Mr Bignell provided a response to those queries.

“The increased capacity for observations using mobile phones, and the sharing information through social media and internet may give the impression White Sharks have increased in numbers,” the letter said. “However, this is not consistent with available data and information from Primary Industries and Regions SA’s online shark sighting reports.”

However, Mr Bignell’s May letter also said ‘there is no data available to assess trends in abundance of white sharks in Upper Spencer Gulf’ due to challenges such as shark mobility, expansive habitat use and costs.

Mr van Holst Pellekaan said he wants this issue to be taken seriously and said it is ‘frustrating’ that the Minister would say that ‘there’s nothing to indicate that there are more sharks and at the same time, say that there’s no evidence available about the number of sharks at all’.

“It is frustrating that the Minister says concerns people have raised are not consistent with the available data and then in the next sentence says there is no available data for the Port Augusta region,” he said.

He said he would like the state government to undertake an investigation to determine whether or not there are more white sharks in the Upper Spencer Gulf.

The Great White is a prehistoric beast that patrols the cold waters of southern Australia.

Fishermen in the gulf have reported encounters with the creature while reeling in snapper and one shark was accidentally caught near Port Pirie some years ago.