New data has revealed more than 500 sharks have been caught off Queensland as a result of a controversial shark control program. The majority of sharks were found dead and many others were euthanased over a 12-month period last year through the use of drumlines and nets.
Conservation groups say the Queensland Government program, which was established more than 50 years ago, needs to be abolished.
Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) senior marine campaigner Tooni Mahto called the practice “inhumane and archaic”.
“Under the Queensland control program there are 26 species of shark which are listed as being a threat to humans. That’s totally nonsensical,” she said.
In New South Wales, the State Government is trialling the use of “smart” drum lines, which alert authorities when an animal is caught. Sharks that are caught are tagged with satellite trackers and released. Swimmers are then encouraged to use an app to see where the sharks are, before entering the water.
But the AMCS said the system was flawed because sharks still died.
“Some species can’t cope with being released after being caught. For example hammerhead sharks, when caught on hooks get very, very stressed,” Ms Mahto said.
Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said in a statement the shark control program would continue, and the Government remained committed to the safety of Queenslanders and the tourists who visited and enjoyed the state’s beaches.
“While we continue to monitor emerging technology, the safety of swimmers is paramount, and until alternatives are found that work better in Queensland waters, the program will continue,” Mr Furner said.
The safety of Queenslanders is our top priority and any moves to remove the protections on our beaches will place lives at risk.”
Mr Furner said 85 of Queensland’s most popular beaches were protected by nets or drumlines in a program that had been supported by successive governments since 1962.