Report shows no need for federal intervention in Great Barrier Reef Shark Control Program
Claims made in a media release yesterday, 3 October, by Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner are categorically incorrect, Humane Society International declares.
The media release referenced a recent report by Cardno, a consulting firm, commissioned by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to "deliver a comparative assessment of alternative shark control methods to those currently used in the Shark Control Program, and develop a trial implementation strategy.”
The Minister has misrepresented the results of that report and has failed to publicise some important points in his media release.
Minister Furner stated, "catch-and-release is the wrong approach within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and this report confirms that,” and that the report makes this "absolutely clear.” Contrary to this claim, the report states: "We have concluded that there is merit in a limited trial of SMART drumlines.”
The below table, published in the report, clearly shows that SMART drumlines were given a green "Yes” for suitability of use in the North region of the Shark Control Program, the location of the Great Barrier Reef.
The report further states that Tannum Sands, a beach adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef, "represents a good opportunity to conduct a relatively cost-effective trial at an appropriate scale.”
Lawrence Chlebeck from Humane Society International said: "This is exactly what the court ordered, a trial implemented on a progressive basis. No one asked for all 173 drumlines to be removed or replaced immediately—that was Mr Furner's choice not what he was ordered to do as he continues to state.”
Mr Furner's position may originate from the fact that the report acknowledges "potential significant issues that require close consideration” in the implementation of a SMART drumline trial, but that is to be expected.
"Any change to an outdated, 60-year old program will come with significant considerations. It's folly to assume otherwise. The Queensland Labor Government is essentially ignoring court orders that would better protect people, sharks, and Reef because it has challenges,” said Mr Chlebeck.
The Minister also failed to accurately convey that the authors found unprovoked shark incidents are so rare that it is impossible to use them as an indicator of success or failure of the program.
"What continues to be missed by all of the hysterical back and forth on drumlines is the important fact that culling sharks does NOT make swimmers safer,” said Mr Chlebeck.
"Shark bites are extremely rare and drumlines and nets are about providing a perception of safety rather than any real protection.
"The court ruling gives Queensland the opportunity to sensibly make changes over time that will actually improve swimmer safety as well as protect the marine ecosystem. There is no need whatsoever for Federal Government intervention—Mr Furner should stop grandstanding and should actually read the ruling and the report and start to implement the recommendations.”
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