Queensland Government granted temporary stay in Great Barrier Reef shark cull appeal

By : Humane Society International April 13, 2019

An application by the Queensland Government to temporarily suspend the orders made by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to end shark culling in the Great Barrier Reef has been granted by the Federal Court this evening. The suspension has been given while the Queensland Government prepares an appeal against the Tribunal's orders.

"Humane Society International has fought against lethal shark control in Australia for decades, and we will defend last week's landmark win for sharks until the very end,” said Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns for Humane Society International.

"The decision by the Federal Court today takes nothing away from the Tribunal's factual finding that killing sharks makes no difference to swimmer safety. The Tribunal said the evidence for that is 'overwhelming' and the Judge today said this was not in doubt. Instead the Queensland Government has come to the Federal Court with an argument over legal technicalities.

"The Queensland Government claims it is putting human safety first when all it is offering the public is a placebo. The Queensland Government has been complacently relying on last century culling methods which have been shown in court to have no effect. It should now focus on investing in modern non-lethal technology which will be more effective at protecting people.

"The Tribunal found the Queensland Shark Control Program is out of step with national and international developments. It's unacceptable that the Queensland Government is defending an archaic program in a World Heritage listed Marine Park. We will continue to vigorously fight this appeal on behalf of the marine wildlife in the Great Barrier Reef,” continued Ms Beynon.

Last week, in the legal challenge initiated by HSI, the Tribunal found that the Shark Control Program within the Marine Park must avoid the lethal take of shark species.

Today's decision means the Queensland Labor Government is now able to continue hooking and shooting sharks while waiting for its appeal to be heard.

"Instead of seeking to overturn the Tribunal's decision, it's time the Queensland Government's shark control program entered the 21st Century,” concluded Ms Beynon.                                                 

The Queensland Government has announced the culling program will begin again tomorrow.

HSI thanks the Environmental Defenders Office NSW for continuing to defend us in this important case, and Barrister Chris McGrath for representing us in court today. 

The Appeal Hearing will be in the Federal Court later this year.

The Tribunal decision for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's Shark Control Program is to:

  • avoid the lethal take of sharks and remove the list of target sharks from the permit;
  • ensure drum lines are attended to as quickly as possible when sharks are captured, and require that the euthanasia of sharks caught on drum lines is only undertaken on animal welfare grounds;
  • ensure all tiger, bull and white sharks caught on drum lines are tagged then released so that their movements can be monitored and researched;
  • ensure SMART (Shark Management Alert in Real Time) drum lines are trialled and implemented as soon as reasonably possible;
  • conduct research into alternative non-lethal shark control measures; and
  • require research to be conducted into the at-risk tiger shark population.

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