A Queensland tribunal has effectively ordered an end to the lethal component of the shark control program in the the Great Barrier Reef, the Humane Society International (HSI) says.
In a decision handed down on Tuesday, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal placed nine restrictions on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s shark control program.
This included a condition requiring the program to be carried out in a manner that avoids, to the greatest extent possible, the culling of sharks.
‘Since the 1960s, sharks have been shot dead in the Great Barrier Reef – today this has ended,’ HSI’s Marine Campaigner, Lawrence Chlebeck said yesterday.
‘This is a massive victory for sharks and marine wildlife.’
Crucially, the tribunal found that killing sharks does not reduce the risk of unprovoked shark interactions with people.
It found the scientific evidence to be ‘overwhelming in this regard’, and stated that: ‘it is plain from the evidence given in these proceedings that Queensland’s lethal SCP is out of step with national and international developments’.
The Tribunal ordered that the Marine Park Authority’s list of 19 target species be abandoned and that sharks can no longer be killed by gunshot in the name of bather protection.
It also ordered that drumlines must be checked more frequently, that any sharks found alive on a drumline be released and that tiger, bull and white sharks must be tagged before being released alive off shore.
SMART drumlines are also to be trialled and implemented in the Marine Park as soon as reasonably possible, and non-lethal alternatives to drumlines are to be researched.
‘The judgement makes it crystal clear that non-lethal technology is the way forward for shark control in the Great Barrier Reef,’ Mr Chelbeck said.
‘As a result of this judgement, finding that killing sharks has no impact on bather safety, HSI calls on the Queensland Government to update its shark management program along the whole Queensland coast,’.
The legal case was brought by Humane Society International in cooperation with the Environmental Defenders Office.
Part of the evidence assembled for the case was a video of sharks being caught on drumlines. The video was taken and produced by Cloudcatcher Media, co-founded by Echonetdaily’s own Eve Jefferey.
Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_ix0FNAfAw