Smart drumlines would be impractical and ineffective in the Great Barrier Reef: Report

Media Statement

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries
The Honourable Mark Furner

03. October 2019

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A new report has found that so-called smart drumlines and a catch-and-release shark control program would be impractical and ineffective in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said leading engineering, environment and design consultancy Cardno undertook a review of technology options and found serious issues with using SMART drumlines in the Reef.

“The review specifically identifies significant challenges with catching and releasing sharks and the use of SMART drumlines in the Great Barrier Reef region, Mr Furner said.

“Where SMART drumlines have been trialed in New South Wales and Western Australia, sharks are moved further offshore where there are no other water users.

“But that won’t work here, especially in much of Queensland’s northern waters where many offshore areas are frequented by swimmers or other water users. This includes major tourism drawcards such as Green Island, Magnetic Island, the Whitsundays, and the Keppels.”

TheQueensland Shark Control Program: Review of alternative approaches” report was commissioned following this year’s State Budget announcement that committed $1 million per year to trial alternatives.

Mr Furner said that, while a limited trial of SMART drumlines could be held in southern waters, the review found that replacing all drumlines with SMART drumlines would be impractical.

“Now is the time for the LNP to stop drinking the Green Kool-aid and get behind the Shark Control Program,” Mr Furner said.

“We are investing $1 million a year to assess alternatives, however they have to be appropriate for Queensland conditions and this report shows the LNP has backed the wrong horse.

“Catch-and-release is the wrong approach within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and this report confirms that.

“We will continue to examine possible alternatives, but this report makes it absolutely clear – the Federal Government needs to change course and legislate immediately to allow our long-standing catch-and-remove shark control program back in to the Marine Park.”

The Cardno report identified potential alternatives to traditional shark control equipment that could be trialed along different parts of the Queensland coast.

“The review found major differences between the north and south of Queensland,” Mr Furner said.

“In the north waves aren’t as large and the water is not as clear, whereas in the south there is bigger surf and clearer water.

“The review finds that physical barriers may be appropriate for trial in the Great Barrier Reef area due a lack of ocean swell.

“In the south, drones could be used in partnership with surf life savers. This could also include working with NSW Fisheries and Macquarie University who have developed artificial intelligence to identify sharks and provide real time information to authorities and surf lifesavers.”

Last week the Palaszczuk Government installed 17 extra drumlines between Townsville, Mackay, Capricorn Coast and Gladstone to protect beaches just outside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The Queensland Government deployed additional drumlines at beaches outside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park following a recent Federal Court decision that meant all sharks caught within the marine park must now be tagged and released alive within 24 hours.

The Government removed more than 160 drumlines from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park because that program as now prescribed could not be carried out without serious risk to staff and contractors.

But the LNP embraced the new requirements, urging the urgent rollout of a catch-and-release program that the Cardno report has now found to be inappropriate.

Source: Government of Queensland

Link to Report:

Queensland Shark Control Program – Review of alternative approache

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