Shark ‘cover-up’ in Port Hacking

By Murray Trembath
January 14 2014 - 5:55am

FORMER staff at the defunct Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre said the public needed to be aware of the risk of a shark attack in Port Hacking.
The researchers repeated claims first made two years ago that the government suppressed research pointing to the danger, including that a two-metre bull shark was caught near Grays Point in February 2012.
Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson denied suppressing research, while a departmental spokeswoman said there was no heightened danger to the public.
A former staffer at the Cronulla centre contacted the Leader and said he was ‘‘greatly concerned’’ the research was not released.
‘‘At this time of year, the risk of shark attacks, while small, is nevertheless heightened,’’ he said.
‘‘Research we did some time ago showed the presence of bull sharks in Port Hacking, up near Grays Point.’’
The former staff member and other ex-colleagues said the research was suppressed because it undermined the decision to close the Fisheries centre.
They said they had to speak out anonymously because they hoped to have future dealings with the government.
A 2012 Channel 9 news report said NSW Fisheries staff were ordered not to tell the public a two-metre bull shark was caught in Port Hacking, despite safety concerns.
The report said NSW Fisheries usually announced when a shark was caught in a new waterway.
A spokesman for Ms Hogkinson told the Leader the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) did not suppress any of its research.
‘‘Once DPI projects have been completed or major milestones have been reached, research findings are made publicly available either through internal reports found on the DPI website or scientific journal articles,’’ he said.
‘‘The bull shark tagging program is focused on the Sydney region and includes gates across every major estuary in NSW.

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