More southern bluefin tuna in waters off the south-east coast of South Australia is unlikely to be the reason for a suspected fatal shark attack that killed Victorian snorkeller Duncan Craw, says a fishing industry leader.

Key points:

  • Tuna industry expert Brian Jeffriess says tuna move too quickly for sharks in the wild
  • He says more sharks and shark sightings are the “reality”
  • Community leaders say they are in “disbelief” over the death of snorkeller Duncan Craw

Mr Craw, 32, from Woolsthorpe, near Warrnambool, Victoria, went missing while snorkelling near the Port MacDonnell coast with police fearing he was killed by a shark after finding a damaged wetsuit and flippers.

The incident came just days after reports that a commercial fleet of 40 boats from Port Lincoln had relocated to the south-east in search of southern bluefin tuna.

It triggered speculation from retired rock lobster fisherman John Ashby who believed the potential rise of tuna in the area may have attracted more sharks to the region’s waters.

“With the shift of the fishermen from Port Lincoln, it made me wonder if there hasn’t been an upwelling of some kind that supports the krill and the small fish attract the tuna,” he said.

Tuna harvesting off the coast of South Australia.(Supplied: Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Association)

However, Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association chief executive officer Brian Jeffriess said that was unlikely.

“The tuna move too fast for sharks in the wild — they have to move at above a body length per-second to survive,” he said.

“Of course when the tuna are in a more static position in farms, then they could attract sharks.”

More shark attacks ‘inevitable’

Beachgoers at Kingston in the state’s south-east were also on high alert on Sunday after a pair of boaters spotted a large white shark just 500m off-shore.

Mr Jeffriess believes an increase in shark sightings and attacks are just a “reality” right across Australia.

“Consciously, with good science, shark species are now protected and as a result there has been a natural increase in populations,” he said.

Brian Jeffriess believes more sighting of sharks are a “reality” around the nation.(Pixabay)

He said it was something state governments were going to have to come to terms with and work out how to manage.

“We believe it can largely be solved by things such as technological barriers at populated beaches, but that obviously costs money.

“However, incidents such as what we saw last week are very, very sad and I think there should be a push for governments to at least explore new technology.”

Fatal attack fails to deter visitors

Grant District Council deputy mayor Gill Clayfield said the local community was shocked and saddened by the shark fatality.

“We are in disbelief. Never did I think when the person went missing that it would be a shark attack,” Cr Clayfield said.

Duncan Craw with wife Tay and son Levi.(Supplied)

She said the Surfers’ Way — the location of the attack — was a popular surfing and snorkelling spot.

Cr Clayfield, who lives at Port MacDonnell, said the tragedy did not stop people from flocking to beaches over the weekend’s hot spell.

“The popular Woolwash beach was packed, more so than normal. The shark attack certainly did not have any impact on people’s behaviour” Cr Clayfield said.

She said the local community was still coming to terms with it.