Hammerhead sharks in season
A FIVE-METRE, 1200kg monster hammerhead shark caught off Evans Head last month is normal, according to Broadwater shark fisherman Bill Litchfield.
The massive hammerhead was caught four nautical miles off the coast in eight feet of water. Its size has astonished locals but big is fast becoming regular, Mr Litchfield said.
With mullet season stretching from March to August each year, Northern Rivers residents can expect increased shark sightings over the next few months.
“They (massive sharks) are out there every day,” Mr Litchfield said.
“With only three shark fishing boats between North Solitary Island off the coast at Woolgoolga and the Queensland border, they will go out two days per week and it would be normal to catch a shark of that size once or twice a week.”
The sharks are sold for their flesh, jaws and fins.
Mr Litchfield believed that because of scare mongering about diminishing shark numbers, strict government quotas had been brought in and he believes that shark numbers are steadily increasing.
“I have been 25 years shark fishing and I am seeing numbers rise,” he said.
“The biggest problem is that stocks like jewfish, snapper and flathead are increasing and therefore, so are the sharks.”
Mr Litchfield saw them as becoming more of a danger to swimmers, surfers and fishermen as they increase in number and come closer to shore for food, competing with humans for the same fish.
“The Government has stopped shark fishing anything above 1.5 metres in Queensland and they will eventually stop it in NSW,” he said.
Queensland and world-renowned shark expert Vic Hislop, who is currently in Evans Head, agrees with Mr Litchfield’s observations.
“Those sized sharks (five metres) are very common wherever there’s salt water,” he said.
“They are always in season. The hammerhead they caught here in Evans Head is a magnificent specimen.
“You wouldn’t want it swimming under your kid’s surfboard because its head is bigger than the average board.”
The final resting place of the hammerhead caught by the Santrina shark fishing crew is unclear, but speculation in The Northern Star’s sister newspaper The Fraser Coast Chronicle is that it could be headed to Mr Hislop’s Shark Show at Urangan in Hervey Bay.
Meanwhile, more than 2.4 million square kilometres of ocean, spanning most of Australia’s east coast, will be considered for marine protection zones, Environment Minister Peter Garrett has announced.
Eight areas, extending from the Torres Strait to southern NSW, have been proposed for further assessment as the Government works towards establishing multiple ‘no take’ (no fishing) and multiple use zones along the eastern seaboard.
The seven areas include the Fraser, Tweed, Clarence, Batemans, Hunter, Clarence, Norfolk and Lord Howe zones as well as the Coral Sea.