SUNSHINE Coast shark advocate, veteran diver and ocean educator Tony Isaacson is gunning for a prestigious environmental award he hopes can help his fight for better technology.
Mr Isaacson is a finalist in the 2017 Healthy Land and Water Awards and is seeking votes before the poll closes on August 21.
On a mission to educate people about alternative shark protection measures and the value of sharks to the tourism economy, Mr Isaacson hopes the Lifetime Achievement Award win will be the catalyst for him to sit down with Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne and Queensland Shark Control Program coordinator Jeff Krause.
He said his mission was to show Australians that sharks “are not only essential for healthy land and water, they are good for tourism too”.
Mr Isaacson said reports claimed 14% of tourists weren’t coming to Australia because of our sharks, and that flagged with him a need for greater education.
He presented at a recent Senate Inquiry into shark mitigation and deterrents in Brisbane, where he worked to convince the Senate Committee to commit to more Australian trials and deployments of Clever Buoy shark detection technology and other non-lethal measures.
Mr Isaacson believed the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast were on “borrowed time” before a preventable casualty or fatality happens at a beach equipped with drum lines and shark nets.
He said the answer lay in technology advances, including personal deterrent equipment, buoys and more, as opposed to the existing shark control programs which kill “long-lived superstars” which he said had a capacity to earn more than $6 million in shark tourism charters.
Mr Isaacson hopes his push will ensure non-target species, including whales, dolphins and turtles, don’t continue to be killed by drum lines and nets.
“Dead sharks cannot deliver behavioural data. Nor can they continue their vital role as keystone species that protect our land and water environments and Queensland Fisheries’ resources,” Mr Isaacson said.
“It’s not about winning the argument for non-lethal shark mitigation, it’s about finding common purpose and directing precious taxpayer-funded resources towards measures that will deliver better water safety for our beach culture and tourism, stop the carnage of charismatic marine mega fauna and have sharks continue their essential role for healthier land and water environments.”
To vote for Mr Isaacson head to hlw.org.au/awards/finalists.