AUS: Federal laws prevent extra shark control gear being deployed in Cairns

Media Statement

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries
The Honourable Mark Furner

25. September 2019

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The Palaszczuk Government is moving quickly to install additional shark control equipment at a number of Queensland coastal locations, but Federal legislation is preventing extra equipment being deployed in Cairns.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said 17 additional drumlines were being deployed from Townsville to Gladstone, but existing drumlines could not be operated north of Townsville because the coastline was wholly within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

“This follows last week’s Federal Court decision that meant all sharks caught within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park – even dangerous sharks that could threaten human life – must now be tagged and released alive within 24 hours,” Mr Furner said.

“At this time, we do not have the appropriate equipment to immediately and safely comply with these new conditions.

“We had no choice but to suspend our operations within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and remove our gear.

Member for Cairns Michael Healy urged the Federal Government to move quickly to amend its legislation to allow Queensland’s Shark Control Program to return its equipment to beaches within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

“The Federal Government’s lack of action has left Cairns swimmers exposed to higher risk than their fellow Queenslanders further south,” Mr Healy said.

“I want to see the existing drumlines go back in straight away so they can continue their record of keeping local swimmers safe.”

Mr Furner said: “The Opposition wants to catch and release dangerous sharks near our most popular swimming areas, instead of backing our long-standing Queensland approach of catching and removing the risk.”

The additional drumlines will be installed at beaches that are near, but not inside, the boundaries of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The Shark Control Program south of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park remains unchanged.

Mr Furner said the State Government was undertaking communications activities to advise the community, Surf Life Saving Queensland and tourism organisations about the removal of shark control equipment.

“We have installed temporary signs at affected beaches to advise swimmers that Shark Control Program equipment has been removed,” he said.

“We will also continue our swimmer safety SharkSmart education and awareness campaign, and some locations, such as Cid Harbour, will remain as swimming exclusion zones.”

Be Safe. Be SharkSmart

  • Don’t swim at dawn or dusk
  • Always swim in clear water (not in murky water, anchorages, estuary mouths or canals)
  • Don’t throw food scraps or fish waste overboard
  • Don’t swim where fish are being cleaned
  • Swim, surf, snorkel or dive with a buddy
  • Follow local signage and swim between the flags at patrolled beaches.

Mr Furner said while it was not possible to say if or when the Shark Control program might resume in Cairns waters, a review of alternative technologies was ongoing.

Mr Furner said the government had committed $1m per year over four years to trialling alternatives to traditional drumlines.

“Smart drumlines are being trialled in other states, but they are just that, a trial,” Mr he said.

“Our current Shark Control Program has operated for almost 60 years with only a single fatality at a beach protected by the program.”

Source: Queensland Government

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