Taskforce on standby for shark emergency

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 May, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 May, 1997, 12:00am

A taskforce to tackle sharks will be on standby this summer ready to implement emergency measures.

Closing beaches, doubling up nets, installing repellent devices and even hunting would be considered in the event of an 'outrageous and unprecedented danger posed to the public'.

Principal Assistant Secretary of Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Jonathan McKinley said the team would draw on experts from outside the Government. Branch officials, fisheries officers, police and academics would be convened if a school of large sharks was confirmed.

'If we had the unprecedented situation of five great white sharks hunting in a pack off the Clear Water Bay coast . . . we want to consider everything,' Mr McKinley said.

But experts said deploying a team once sharks were spotted was no substitute for a study of why sharks ventured into Hong Kong waters and attacked humans.

The first scare of the year occurred with a suspected sighting off Silverstrand beach this month.

Since 1991, there have been seven confirmed deaths by shark attack.

Two years ago experts, including the director of the International Shark Attack File, Dr George Burgess, recommended an 18-month study which would track sharks using sonar.

Bureaucratic wrangling and entrepreneur Harald Kvam's initiation of his own $10 million shark project have led to a delay in the government study.

Mr McKinley said the Government was considering asking overseas experts if they could build on the smaller studies over the past two years.