LOCAL commercial fishermen are fighting a losing battle at sea with sharks stealing their catch on a regular basis.
Trawler operator Kevin Lee said shark schools had got thicker "without a doubt" and behaviour appeared to have become increasingly bolder in recent years.
His fishing trawlers are often stalked by sharks as the predator waits for nets to be winched in to swoop in and steal the catch.
The sharks have learned to rip nets to release the product and in some cases, Mr Lee has had to pack up and move to another location because he couldn't fish for the presence of sharks.
So far this year, 48 sharks have been caught at Rainbow Beach with shark-control equipment; three nets and 12 drumlines.
This includes 27 sharks considered dangerous.
Shark species caught included great whites, tiger sharks, hammerheads, a sharptooth and silky whaler.
The Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry's Shark Control Program manager Jeff Krause, said there were natural fluctuations in shark numbers along the Cooloola Coast, which were generally relative to rainfall and available food sources.
"The shark-catch numbers for Rainbow Beach have remained relatively consistent for the past two years, with 50 caught in 2011 and 38 in 2010 during the same period," he said.
Along the Cooloola Coast, shark control equipment is only in place at Rainbow Beach.
To reduce the risk of a shark attack, people should follow safety tips available online at daff.qld.gov.au, which includes the rules; never swim in murky waters or at night between dusk and dawn when sharks are most active.
Shark species caught
- Two great whites (4.85m and 2.2m)
- 14 tiger sharks (ranging 1.4m-3.7m)
- Six bull sharks (ranging 1.9m-2.85m)
- Five dusky whalers (between 2.1m-2.7m)
- Two hammerheads (less than 2m)
- One sharptooth (3.1m)
- 18 whaler species (ranging 1.9m-2.8m)