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26th April - HSI pursuing legal action against shark control program in Great Barrier Reef      




26 April 2017

Humane Society International (HSI) Australia has launched the first step towards legal action against the approval for the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to continue its Shark Control Program in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. HSI has written to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) to ask them to revoke a 10 year permit given to the Department last month for 173 lethal drum lines to be set up in the World Heritage Area which will kill sharks and turtles.

Drum lines are a lethal shark control measure which use large baited hooks to attract and kill sharks. They also kill other marine life, including endangered marine turtles.

"HSI has asked the Authority to reconsider the decision to grant a 10 year approval for 173 lethal drum lines in light of the unacceptable impact on the conservation of wildlife in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and its inconsistency with their requirement to protect and manage sensitive habitats and ensure they are generally free from potentially damaging activities,” says Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns with HSI Australia.

"The decision to renew the permit locks in 10 more years of marine wildlife fatalities in the Great Barrier Reef at a time when the Reef is already under serious ecological pressure,” Ms Beynon continued.

The majority of coastal areas within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Parks in which nets or drum lines are placed have never witnessed a shark interaction of any kind. Surfers are at an even lower risk in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Parks as there are few if any suitable surfing beaches due to the presence of the reef producing different wave and beach conditions.

Over the course of the Queensland Shark Control Program, more than 5,000 marine turtles have been captured in nets and on drum lines. Between 2010 and 2015, 1,278 tiger sharks were captured and killed in the program, and 1,205 rays were captured in the thirteen years between 2001 and 2013. Marine turtles have been caught in all regions within the state's Shark Control Program.  Between 2001 and 2010 more marine turtles were caught on Gold Coast drum lines than white sharks.

"The loggerhead turtle is at risk of becoming critically endangered and is still being caught and killed on drum lines in the Great Barrier Reef,” says Ms Beynon.

The Shark Control Program in Queensland costs $3 million per annum and is in place at 85 popular beaches along the Queensland coast, including 27 beaches located in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Whilst the recent approval was given along with suggested measures to reduce non-target catch, HSI is warning the Authority that the use of drum lines will inevitably see lethal impacts on threatened species.

"Contrary to what GBRMPA says, drum lines are not a responsible solution for shark control.  HSI is calling on GBRMPA to require environmentally responsible strategies to prevent interactions between humans and sharks. If GBRMPA affirms their decision, HSI will seriously consider legal action at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal,” Ms Beynon concluded.

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