Australia’s peak marine conservation group has welcomed the announcement that a sensible, evidence-based approach to shark mitigation and public safety is being introduced to our Great Barrier Reef.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) said the agreement between the Commonwealth and State governments to re-deploy SMART drum lines trials, pilot drone surveillance and instigate swimmer education was good for reef health.
Dr Leonardo Guida, AMCS shark scientist and spokesperson said: “We welcome the Queensland government’s use of the latest scientific evidence and technology to increase the safety of beach goers in the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
“Sharks are critical to our Reef’s health as they keep food webs in check, and it’s the very health of our Reef that supports around 64,000 tourism jobs.
“Our Reef is facing a potential listing as ‘in danger’ by UNESCO this year which could impact negatively on tourism. It is important to build resilience into Reef health and sharks are integral to that.
“A healthy Reef supports healthy shark populations, which are also good for Australia’s commercial and recreational fishing industries.”
The new program will ensure Queensland complies with a decision handed down by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) last year to end lethal shark culling in our Great Barrier Reef.
In the case, which was brought by Humane Society International (HSI), the AAT found “overwhelming” scientific evidence showing that killing sharks does not reduce the risk of unprovoked interactions with humans, and that there were concerns for the impact culling has on the Reef’s ecosystem noting a “significant reduction” in the tiger shark population within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Dr Guida added that he hoped the cooperation and leadership shown by the Queensland and Commonwealth governments would lead to more humane, science-based shark mitigation strategies for the entire Queensland coast.