Justice for sharks - Queensland appeal struck down

By : Humane Society International September 18, 2019


Humane Society International (HSI) has today secured a momentous win for sharks and the Great Barrier Reef.  In April, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) ordered an end to the lethal component of the Queensland government’s Shark Control Program (SCP). Instead of accepting that decision and moving to implement non-lethal and more effective strategies for swimmer protection, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ (QDAF) appealed the decision on the grounds of legal and jurisdictional technicalities.  That appeal was struck down today in the Federal Court of Australia, Brisbane, confirming there must be an end to 60 years of deliberately killing sharks on drumlines in the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.

This is a great day for sharks, the Great Barrier Reef, our oceans, and for Queenslandremarked Lawrence Chlebeck, Marine Campaigner with HSI.

No longer will sharks senselessly die for a misguided sense of security, and now measures will be put in place that can actually reduce the incidence of shark-human interactions.” Mr Chlebeck concluded.

The Federal Court ruled that the AAT was within its authority to bring an end to lethal culling in the Great Barrier Reef. Based on two days’ worth of evidence at a hearing in April, the AAT had determined that shark culling has no discernible impact to the risk of shark bite, and that QDAF’s SCP makes a significant contribution to declining populations of tiger sharks on the Great Barrier Reef.  The Tribunal found evidence to these points to be “overwhelming.” 

“With culling well and truly thrown out of court, we now call on the Queensland government to cease the culling of sharks on all of its coast line and to remove all nets and lethal drumlines”.

Humane Society International and our supporters give deep and sincere thanks to the Environmental Defenders Office and to barristers Edward Muston, Chris McGrath and David Hume for their tremendous work in defending this appeal.

The appeal was dismissed on all grounds.

The AAT had ordered the following, which the Federal Court has now upheld:

  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.


Image credit: Nicole McLachlan

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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