Following the recent shark bites in the Whitsundays AMCS wishes to extend our hopes for a full and speedy recovery to Justine Barwick and Hannah Papps, and our sympathies to other family members and witnesses affected. AMCS applauds the first responders and public who assisted in the events.
Shark bites are traumatic accidents which, though rare, require action by governments to reduce their occurrence. However, installing drumlines to catch and kill sharks is not the answer. The Queensland Shark Control Program was established in the 1960s and is an outdated way of attempting to protect people from the possibility of shark bites. Technological developments in recent years have the potential to address both the issues of human safety and species protection. The program must be modernised to meet public concerns that lethal shark control is unacceptable.
Recent polling by the Courier Mail and ABC Brisbane show that the majority of people (69% Courier Mail; 84% ABC)1 do not want shark culling to continue in Queensland. Non-lethal methods like spotters, drone surveys of popular beaches, warning systems, and public education need to be explored as more effective methods of bather and shark protection.
Putting in more drumlines is not a solution, and it is not a fail-safe option. In 2006, a fatal shark bite occurred at a drumlined beach at Amity Point, Queensland2 and baited hooks may even attract sharks to an area.
Furthermore, drumlines are indiscriminate in the animals they kill. The Queensland Shark Control Program has killed 44 dolphins and 11 turtles in last 5 years. Sharks are crucial to ecosystem health and their removal could destabilise food-webs, in turn impact fishing and tourism.
There is no doubt human safety is of paramount concern, even acknowledging shark bites are extremely rare events. AMCS and supporters are calling on the Queensland Government to give serious consideration to using non-lethal methods, such as aerial patrols, shark spotting programs and public education that will be more effective and protect both humans and sharks.
AMCS is asking the Queensland Government to stop killing sharks in the Great Barrier Reef, and invest in non-lethal forms of shark control.
1 ABC Brisbane poll https://www.facebook.com/abcinbrisbane/posts/10156799964474669; Courier Mail Poll https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/opinion/should-we-cull-sharks-or-is-there-another-way-to-keep-people-safe/news-story/6a4483b1bc6d12bcb811e6b5cbe3e7fb
2 Taronga Zoo’s Shark Attack File https://taronga.org.au/conservation-and-science/australian-shark-attack-file