Yesterday the Queensland Government announced their 2021-2025 Shark Management Plan, committing to non-lethal shark control in the Great Barrier Reef over the life of the Plan, and laying the groundwork to phase out shark nets and drumlines across the state.
While it is disappointing that lethal shark control will continue along Queensland’s coast for now, the Plan is a welcome step in the right direction, according to conservation groups Humane Society International (HSI) and the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS). Most promisingly, the Plan emphasises trialling modern technologies and strategies to protect ocean swimmers from shark bite without the incredible wildlife toll currently caused by shark nets and lethal drumlines.
In 2021, Queensland’s shark nets and lethal drumlines caught a threatened turtle every eight days. Nearly one in three of those died along with almost 600 other animals who needlessly lost their lives. The introduction of modern technologies such as drones, personal deterrent devices, and education programs would see vast improvements to swimmer safety and end the devastation of Queensland’s marine life.
Shark culling devices offer only a false sense of security. HSI and AMCS are optimistic that the results of the trials of drone and other technologies will be positive having already been tried and tested successfully in New South Wales. They are calling for a further commitment to fast track the implementation of modern strategies to manage the risk of shark bite and end lethal shark control throughout all of Queensland over the lifetime of the plan.
Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns for Humane Society International said: “This Shark Management Plan is a pathway to modern management of shark bite risks in keeping with community attitudes today. Shark nets and lethal drumlines have only ever offered a false sense of security and Queenslanders deserve more effective modern technologies to manage the risk of shark bite. There is no reason why there cannot be a full phase out of out-dated lethal shark culling devices over the lifetime of the Shark Management Plan.”
Dr Leonardo Guida, shark scientist with AMCS said: “It’s great to see the Queensland Government put in place a plan that brings beach safety to modern standards, but unless there’s effective and efficient action, it’s just that – a plan. The Queensland Government has solutions at hand, and seeing these implemented effectively will improve the safety of beach goers and wildlife alike.”
The Plan follows an HSI court win in 2019 which ended the deliberate culling of sharks in the Great Barrier Reef and required Queensland to introduce catch alert drumlines in the marine park. HSI and AMCS are currently running a joint initiative to end the use of lethal shark control methods in Queensland in favour of more effective non-lethal technologies. Please visit www.sharkchampions.org.au for more information.