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The Palaszczuk government last week announced a greater investment in the state’s drone surveillance program at ocean beaches by committing $6 million over the next three years. The funding will bolster existing drone surveillance trials underway on the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, North Stradbroke Island and Magnetic Island, while also funding expansion of the trial to four new beaches: Rainbow Beach, Bribie Island, Noosa Main Beach, and Kurrawa Beach.
Conservationists who are calling for an end to lethal shark nets and drumlines, are pleased to see innovation in the state’s 60-year-old Shark Control Program.
This winter alone there have been six migrating whale entanglements in shark nets along the Queensland coastline, and over the course of the year hundreds of turtles, rays, dolphins and non-target sharks have been caught and killed on drumlines and in nets. Conservation organisation Humane Society International is calling for lethal nets and drumlines to be replaced with non-lethal alternatives such as drones, deterrents and barriers. Life savers strongly support drone technology because it can also be used to monitor much more common ocean risks such as rips and currents and swimmers in distress.
Lawrence Chlebeck, marine biologist with Humane Society International remarked, “It is very good to see a modernisation of the Shark Control Program and the use of up-to-date technology for beach safety. It is past time for outdated and destructive shark nets and drumlines to be retired. Coastal communities have been clear that they approve of drone surveillance and it is encouraging to see the government respond. We look forward to drone surveillance being extended to other parts of the state.
“Whereas lethal shark nets and drumlines offer only a false sense of security, Queenslanders can have confidence in new non-lethal technologies such as drone surveillance, personal shark deterrents and Catch-Alert drumlines, which are more effective at reducing the risk of shark bite. Queensland’s wildlife is dying in the nets and drumlines, and public safety can be delivered more effectively without that wildlife cost.”