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Byron Shire
September 19, 2021

Shark tracker shines spotlight on wildlife deaths

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Today, as part of World Oceans Day, the Humane Society International Australia (HSI) and the Australian Conservation Marine Society (AMCS) are launching a shark culling impact tracker, which counts the mounting toll of marine animals indiscriminately caught and killed month on month in shark culling equipment.

The new tracker will reveal what both groups say, is the true suffering caused to marine life by the shark nets and drumlines that span Queensland’s coastline. Although touted as a way to keep swimmers safe, the reality is that these devices provide a false sense of security at a high cost to marine ecosystems.

The tracker is a live tally of whales, dolphins, turtles, rays, and sharks caught and killed by nets and drumlines in Queensland since 2001. The HSI and AMCS say the data is drawn directly from Queensland’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries as it is made available to provide the public with an up-to-date picture of what the say is the appalling reality that exists just below the surface of Queensland’s ocean waters.

Tribunal dismisses efficacy of nets and drumlines

In 2019, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal dismissed the efficacy of the nets and drumlines deployed in the Great Barrier Reef to protect swimmers from shark, saying shark culling had no impact on the risk of shark bite.

Now, Queensland’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has begun to trial non-lethal alternatives to outdated nets and drumlines that are more effective at reducing the risk of shark bite for swimmers —without adding to the mounting wildlife toll. These trials are welcome, but until non-lethal alternatives are fully implemented, HSI and AMCS will keep counting the marine wildlife that suffers and dies in the nets and drumlines until they are removed.

The shark culling impact tracker aims to shine a spotlight on these futile deaths. As of the tracker launch date, Queensland’s nets and drumlines have caught 402 whales dolphins, 834 turtles, 1,726 rays, and 12,290 sharks since 2001. Many of the animals caught are endangered, and about half of the shark species caught pose very little risk to humans.

Out of sight, out of mind

Marine biologist for Humane Society International Australia, Lawrence Chlebeck, said the shark culling impact tracker is a way to show the nation, and the world, just how much of an impact these nets and drumlines are having on marine life in Queensland. ‘It’s easy to put the suffering and death out of mind when it’s out of sight, so we want to show everyone exactly what it costs to keep using these ineffective shark control measures.’

Shark scientist for the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Dr Leonardo Guida, said as the Queensland government starts to modernise beach safety by trialling the latest tech solutions like drones, eco-barriers and personal deterrents, we can hope to a drop in the rate of wildlife being caught. ‘But not without drumlines and nets leaving the water.’

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.

For more information, visit: www.sharkchampions.org.au.

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