Queensland Government Kills Sharks, Faces Court Challenge


Published Sep 4, 2018 12:10 AM by The Maritime Executive

Humane Society International and the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) have released imagery of drumlines set off the coast of Magnetic Island in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park showing the death of endangered scalloped hammerhead sharks.

Both organizations have criticized the Queensland government for using what they say are out-dated, cruel and ineffective shark control measures and call for an end to the use of drumlines in the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.

"Lethal drumlines are an old and ineffective method of bather protection,” said said Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns at Humane Society International. “They catch and kill hundreds of non-target marine animals in the Great Barrier Reef as these new shocking images show. Our sharks and our Reef deserve so much better than this. Lethal drumlines provide nothing more than a completely false sense of security, at the expense of the lives of threatened species that are crucial to our Great Barrier Reef ecosystem.” 

According to Queensland Shark Control Program statistics, 10,480 sharks have been caught on lethal drumlines since 2001. Most of these sharks were harmless, and this number does not take account of the significant numbers of rays, turtles, fish and dolphins that are also caught and killed on drumlines in Queensland. 

Humane Society International is currently engaged in legal action against the Queensland Government and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for shark culling on lethal drumlines within the World Heritage-listed reef. Represented by Environmental Defenders Office (EDO NSW), Humane Society International is arguing that the Shark Control Program, which allows 173 lethal drumlines to operate within the Great Barrier Reef, is inconsistent with the main objective of the Marine Park, which is "to provide for the long term protection and conservation of the environment, biodiversity and heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef Region.” 

Since launching the legal challenge, the Queensland Government has removed seven of the 26 species of shark from its target list. Whilst the seven species of shark will no longer be shot dead if found alive on a drumline, they can still be hooked and die whilst the 173 lethal drumlines are installed in the Great Barrier Reef.

Humane Society International's case against the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Queensland Government will be heard in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in January 2019.