More than 84,800 marine animals have been caught in Queensland’s shark control program since 1962.
Those figures come from a freedom of information request, initially started by Sea Shepherd Australia and then followed up by the Shark Files Queensland group.
Catch-data dating back to November 1962, reveals that over 84,800 marine animals have been ensnared in the program, including many, vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered species.
While the majority of marine species caught were sharks, more than 50 per cent caught were whaler sharks, with blacktip reef sharks toping the ranks in this category, which also includes 310 dusky sharks and 265 sandbar sharks, both rated as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
This was followed by over 15,000 tiger sharks and then by over 14,000 hammerhead sharks, including 850 scalloped and 280 great hammerheads which are both rated as endangered by the IUCN.
As a result of this data, National Shark Campaign Coordinator for Sea Shepherd Australia, Natalie Banks is calling on the Queensland Fisheries Minister, Bill Byrne to review the species of sharks targeted by the program.
“It is honestly a stomach-turning exercise to read through the list of marine animals captured by this program and in terms of protected sharks, to see 265 critically endangered grey nurse sharks, 121 Makos and 13 whale sharks caught up in the list of targeted species by the Queensland Shark Control Program,” Natalie said.
“There has been 54 species of sharks that have been caught on the drum lines and in shark nets in Queensland, most of which are not a threat at all to ocean users.”
But even without these sharks being considered as by-catch, over 26,700 marine animals, including rays, turtles, fish, dugongs, dolphins and whales, some of which have Federal protections, have been caught by the program.
The species involved in the by-catch include over 5,000 turtles, 1,014 dolphins, nearly 700 dugongs and 120 whales – all of which are federally protected marine species.
In total, over 8,200 marine species that have Australian Government protections, have been caught by the Queensland Shark Control Program, which includes 719 loggerhead turtles, 442 manta rays and 33 critically endangered hawksbill turtles.
“With scientists questioning the effectiveness of drum lines and shark nets, it is extremely heartbreaking to see the impact that the Queensland Shark Control Program has on our precious marine life,” Natalie said.
“This is why Sea Shepherd is calling on the Queensland Government to consider non-lethal options which have proven to work, such as the eco-friendly shark barrier in place at a local beach in Western Australia and Shark Spotters, which has been in place in Cape Town, South Africa, keeping ocean users safe without the horrendous by-catch.”
“It is time for Australia to move on from the 1930’s when shark nets were first installed in the country, and to embrace new technology which protects both ocean users and our precious marine life.”