The entrapment of a baby whale in a Queensland shark net on Tuesday (October 9) could not even legally be reported if the state government passes a new gag law.
Humane Society International (HSI) and the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) were on the scene today as the baby humpback whale was caught in a shark net on the Gold Coast.
Staff alerted the rescue and response team to the trapped whale, and it has now been freed.
This latest horror of the Queensland shark control program comes as the state’s government tries to implement legislation to criminalise close proximity to shark control equipment, making photography of lethal drumlines and shark nets almost impossible.
As part of a suite of amendments to the QLD Fisheries Act, the government is proposing implementing exclusion zones of 20 metres around shark control equipment, making it almost impossible to independently capture photography and videos of sharks and other marine animals caught on lethal drumlines and in shark nets throughout the state.
Lawrence Chlebeck, marine campaigner for HIS, said seeing the images of the baby humpback whale entangled in the net ‘should be enough to get the Queensland Government to remove the nets. How many more animals must suffer in these nets before the Government moves to more effective, non-lethal measures?’ he queried.
‘The Queensland Government’s plan to put exclusion zones around shark control equipment is simply a measure to keep the slaughter of sharks and marine wildlife hidden from public view. This is not about public safety, rather it’s a blatant tactic to reduce public scrutiny by a government under increased public pressure to end its archaic culling program.
‘The Queensland Government has 368 lethal drumlines and 30 shark nets throughout the state, and is now justifying these no-go zones by saying this equipment is a hazard to the public. If that’s the case, they should remove these culling devices as a matter of urgency and instead implement non-lethal technologies to protect ocean users,’ Mr Chlebeck, said.
Dr Leonardo Guida, AMCS’s senior shark campaigner said the public had ‘a right to see the true cost of the Queensland Government’s shark culling program’.
Our footage of a baby humpback whale trapped in the nets would have been illegal to collect if the proposed exclusion zone around shark control equipment was in effect,’ Dr Guida said.
‘Recent media polls have found that the Queensland shark control program is deeply unpopular with the public, but the government continues to catch and kill sharks throughout the state.
‘We’re asking the government to listen to the community and invest in non-lethal alternatives, a win-win for endangered marine wildlife and for bather protection,’ he said.
HSI and AMCS also captured images of an endangered baby scalloped hammerhead shark tangled and drowned in a shark net off the Gold Coast on October 4.
In August, HSI and AMCS released footage of two scalloped hammerhead sharks caught on lethal drumlines at Magnetic Island in the Great Barrier Reef.
In response to two shark bites at Whitsunday Island in the Great Barrier Reef last month, the Queensland Government set three lethal drumlines and killed six sharks in the area. These drumlines were removed following massive backlash locally and nationwide. Under its shark control program, at least 64 sharks have been shot dead by the Queensland Government since July last year.
Humane Society International has an ongoing legal challenge against the Queensland Government’s shark culling program in the Great Barrier Reef. The case will be heard at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Brisbane from January 30 next year.