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Humane Society International would like to respond to the article headlined “Large, dangerous sharks set for release in State Govt trial” published in the Courier Mail, Daily Telegraph and affiliates on 4 September.
Humane Society International won a court case against the intentional killing of sharks on the Great Barrier Reef as the court found ‘overwhelming evidence’ that culling sharks does not improve swimmer safety. As a result the Queensland government is required to trial SMART drumlines to manage the risk of shark bite without the heavy toll on marine wildlife. To give just one statistic, a turtle is killed on Queensland shark culling equipment every five days.
The article suggests modernising out of date drumlines to more modern SMART drumlines is a negative development and wrongly seeks to blame the court case for recent shark fatalities:
“Several people were mauled by sharks on the Great Barrier Reef following the tribunal ruling, one fatally.”
These incidents took place in the Whitsundays, or remote offshore reefs – areas where shark control equipment has never been installed, before or after the court case. The court case had no impact on these incidents and any implication otherwise is dishonest and blatantly false. Whereas the tragic fact is that there was a fatality last year at Greenmount Beach, a location with both shark nets and traditional drumlines.
SMART drumlines have been trialed in NSW for the last 6 years and preliminary data has shown that they are effective at reducing the amount of non-target wildlife killed in the program, and more effective at catching target shark species of bull, tiger and white sharks. Large sharks that have been tagged and relocated have been shown NOT to return to the coast for an extended period following capture.
The best way to reduce the risk of shark bite is through a suite of modern alternatives such as SMART drumlines, drone surveillance, personal shark deterrents and education. Archaic culling methods using nets and traditional drumlines are not able to reduce the risk and serve as nothing more than a false sense of security.
We can improve public safety and better protect marine wildlife through the implementation of modern non-lethal technologies that utilise the 60 years of progress we’ve made in technology and understanding sharks and their behaviour since the Shark Control Program began.
As the organisation responsible for bringing to an end the shooting of sharks caught in the Shark Control Program in the Great Barrier Reef, and responsible for the mandating of this SMART drumline trial, Humane Society International would be more than happy to provide quotes or an interview with regard to this issue.