HSI CONDEMNS APPROVAL FOR SHARK CONTROL PROGRAM IN GREAT BARRIER REEF
31st March 2017
Humane Society International (HSI) Australia has called an emergency meeting with Environmental Defenders Office lawyers this afternoon over today’s approval for the Queensland Department of Agriculture to continue its shark control program in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
The decision would see 173 lethal drumlines set up in the World Heritage listed area over the next 10 years.
“The decision to renew the 10-year Marine Parks permit is devastating for the marine life impacted by the lethal shark control program in the Great Barrier Reef’s territory,” says Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns with HSI Australia.
“HSI only today submitted a nomination of Australia’s lethal shark control programs as a Key Threatening Process under the EPBC Act, it’s unbelievable that the decision to approve the program has been granted given the impact of drumlines on critically endangered, threatened and protected species,” says Ms Beynon.
Just today, HSI submitted a nomination of Australia’s lethal shark control programs in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia as a Key Threatening Process under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and is now calling on the Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg to make the impact of shark nets and drumlines on endangered species a priority for assessment. Shark nets are already listed as a Key Threatening Process under NSW threatened species and fisheries laws after a HSI nomination.
“The loggerhead turtle is at risk of becoming critically endangered and is still being caught and killed on drumlines within the Great Barrier Reef despite the Commonwealth Recovery Team stating that its mortality on these devices should be zero,” says Ms Beynon.
The shark control program in Queensland costs $3 million per annum and takes place near 85 popular beaches along the Queensland coast, including 27 beaches located in the Marine Parks.
Whilst the approval was given along with suggested measures to reduce non-target catch, HSI is warning the Authority that the use of drumlines will continue to see lethal impacts on threatened species.
“Contrary to what the GBRMPA says, drumlines are not an adequate solution for shark control. HSI is calling on the Environment Minister to assess more environmentally responsible strategies used to prevent interactions between humans and sharks. With pollution, effects of climate change and over-fishing causing such damage to these animals, we do not need lethal traps in the water creating more problems for marine wildlife such as turtles, dolphins and sharks,” Ms Beynon concluded.
Every year the federal Environment Minister calls for nominations for species and processes to be assessed for listing under the EPBC Act. 31 March is the deadline for nominations.
The Minister decides whether to put the nomination onto a “Priority Assessment List”. It is only the nominations on the list that are assessed. The Minister sets a deadline for the Threatened Species Scientific Committee to assess the nominations and provide him with advice.
Given the Minister considered shark nets a national emergency last year, and exempted them from normal environmental impact assessment processes, HSI calls on the Minister to add the shark net nomination to the priority list for urgent assessment.
The criteria for a new listing as a Key Threatening Process includes that it either impacts at least two threatened species, or that it causes one species to become further threatened and placed in a higher category of endangerment, or that it causes a non-listed species to become listed in a category of endangerment. HSI believes that shark control programs could lead to the grey nurse shark becoming extinct, the loggerhead turtle becoming critically endangered, and result in the listing of hammerhead sharks and tiger sharks as threatened.