Queensland Government appeals court order to stop culling sharks on the Great Barrier Reef

By : Humane Society International April 12, 2019

The Queensland Labor government is doubling down on its desire to continue fatally hooking and shooting sharks in the Great Barrier Reef, filing an Appeal with the Federal Court of Australia to overturn the order from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) to end shark culling in the Great Barrier Reef.

Humane Society International (HSI) challenged the permit that allows lethal culling of sharks in the Marine Park and won the case with the AAT recognising the 'overwhelming' scientific evidence that killing sharks has no impact on swimmer safety.

The Tribunal ordered an end to the lethal component of Queensland's Shark Control Program with requirements for drumlines to be checked more frequently to give animals a greater chance of being released alive, and for tiger sharks, great whites and bull sharks to be tagged and relocated off shore.

"The science simply doesn't support lethal shark control—a fact that the Queensland Department of Fisheries (QDAF) appears unable to comprehend,” said Lawrence Chlebeck, Marine Campaigner at HSI.

QDAF has asked for a 'stay' on the AAT's conditions, to be decided by 'interlocutory' proceedings which will be heard by the Federal Court in Brisbane today.  It wants to continue fatally hooking and shooting sharks while waiting for its Appeal to be heard. HSI will be represented in court by EDO NSW and Barrister Chris McGrath.

"The Queensland Government has complacently relied on a lethal Shark Control Program to protect ocean users for far too long, despite it having no impact on swimmer safety.

"An unprovoked shark-human interaction has not occurred on the vast majority of Queensland's beaches, most of which have never had lethal shark control equipment,” said Mr Chlebeck.

"Instead of wasting time and money on a Federal Court appeal, we recommend the Queensland Government invest in programs and technologies that are more effective at protecting ocean users. If public safety is indeed its primary concern, the Queensland Government needs to drop this farcical appeal, and get to work.”

There are more effective non-lethal strategies for protecting swimmers in the 21st century such as personal deterrents, aerial surveillance and technology driven alert systems.

As the Tribunal noted, "It is plain from the evidence given in these proceedings that Queensland's lethal SCP is out of step with national and international developments."

Forced to defend this landmark win in the interest of the marine wildlife of the Great Barrier Reef, HSI has created a fighting fund to cover the additional legal costs associated with the Queensland Government's appeal.

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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