HSI welcomes removal of lethal shark drumlines in Great Barrier Reef

By : Humane Society International April 3, 2019

Humane Society International welcomes QLD Fisheries Minister Mark Furner's announcement today that lethal shark drumlines will be removed from the Great Barrier Reef as a result of yesterday's judgement at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Killing sharks provides a false sense of security and does nothing reduce the extremely low risk of shark bite. 

The Tribunal found that killing sharks does not reduce the risk of unprovoked shark interactions. They found the scientific evidence to be "overwhelming in this regard". It stated in its judgement that "it is plain from the evidence given in these proceedings that Queensland's lethal SCP is out of step with national and international developments."

"This judgement gives the Queensland Government the opportunity to move to modern non-lethal shark control methods which are more effective for bather protection. For too long, the Queensland Government has been complacent relying on ineffective and outdated shark culling, despite knowing it has been nothing more than a placebo," said Lawrence Chlebeck, Marine Campaigner at HSI.

HSI is disappointed that the Queensland Government has not accepted the Tribunal's findings and plans to appeal the decision. The Tribunal's decision was based on "overwhelming" scientific evidence and even the Queensland Government's own expert witness, Associate Professor Daryl McPhee, testified that he would never recommend Queensland or anywhere else instigate a new lethal shark control program. 

Minister Furner has misrepresented community attitudes to shark culling in a letter sent to Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price seeking intervention in this case. Media polls consistently show massive opposition to lethal shark control and 100,000 people have recently taken action calling for an end to the shark culling program within the Great Barrier Reef.

"Instead of wasting time on a Federal Court appeal, the Queensland Government should be investing in the latest non-lethal technology freely available for swimmer safety. Personal shark deterrent subsidies, alert systems, drone technology, better education and signage are the way forward for Queensland," concluded Mr Chlebeck.

Administrative Appeals Tribunal decision (full decision attached):

1. The current permit is to be varied to include a condition requiring the permittee (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) to carry out the Shark Control Program in a manner that avoids, to the greatest extent possible, the lethal take of shark species;

2. The target shark list is to be removed from the current permit;

3. The current permit is to be varied to ensure that the euthanasia of sharks caught on the drum lines is only to be undertaken on animal welfare grounds, specifically when a shark is unlikely to survive release due to its condition or an injury, or which cannot be safely removed alive due to weather conditions or hooking location;

4. The current permit is to be varied to ensure sharks are attended to as soon as possible when captured on drum lines, preferably within 24 hours;

5. The current permit is to be varied to ensure all tiger, bull and white sharks caught on drum lines are tagged, using best available technology, before being released so that their movements may be monitored and researched;

6. The current permit is to be varied to ensure tagged sharks be relocated off shore, where possible, and not at site of capture;

7. The current permit is to be varied to ensure SMART drum lines are trialled and implemented on a progressive basis as soon a reasonably possible;

8. The current permit is to be varied to include a condition that requires research to be conducted into alternative non-lethal shark control measures; and

9. The current permit is to be varied to include a condition requiring research be conducted into the tiger shark population.

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About HSI Australia

HSI concentrates on the preservation of endangered animals and ecosystems and works to ensure quality of life for all animals, both domestic and wild. HSI is the largest animal protection not-for-profit organisation in the world and has been established in Australia since 1994